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LINCOLN ROOM 





UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 
LIBRARY 




RECOLLECTIONS 



OF 



ABRAHAM LINCOLN 



LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 




ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 



RECOLLECTIONS 

OF 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

1847-1865 

BY 
WARD HILL LAMON 



WASHINGTON, B.C. 

PUBLISHED BY THE EDITOR 

1911 



COPYRIGHT 

BY DOROTHY LAMON 

A.D. 1895 

Copyright, iqn 
By DOROTHY LAMON TEILLARD 

All rights reserved 



THE UNIVERSITY PRESS, CAMBRIDGE, 0. S. A. 



II . 

PREFACE. 



THE reason for thinking that the public may 
be interested in my father's recollections of 
MR. LINCOLN, will be found in the following letter 
from HON. J. P. USHER, Secretary of the Interior 

during the war : 

LAWRENCE, KANSAS, May 20, 1885. 

Ward H. Lamon, Esq., Denver, Col. 

DEAR SIR, There are now but few left who were 
intimately acquainted with Mr. Lincoln. I do not call 
to mind any one who was so much with him as yourself. 
You were his partner for years in the practice of law, his 
confidential friend during the time he was President. I 
venture to say there is now none living other than your- 
self in whom he so much confided, and to whom he gave 
free expression of his feeling towards others, his trials 
and troubles in conducting his great office. You were 
with him, I know, more than any other one. I think, in 
view of all the circumstances and of the growing interest 
which the rising generation takes in all that he did and 
said, you ought to take the time, if you can, to commit 
to writing your recollections of him, his sayings and 
doings, which were not necessarily committed to writing 



I 1556 S3 



Vi PREFACE. 

and made public. Won't you do it? Can you not, 
through a series of articles to be published in some of the 
magazines, lay before the public a history of his inner 
life, so that the multitude may read and know much 
more of that wonderful man? Although I knew him 
quite well for many years, yet I am deeply interested in 
all that he said and did, and I am persuaded that the 
multitude of the people feel a like interest. 
Truly and sincerely yours, 
(Signed) J. P. USHER. 

In compiling this little volume, I have taken as 
a foundation some anecdotal reminiscences already 
published in newspapers by my father, and have 
added to them from letters and manuscript left by 
him. 

If the production seems fragmentary and lack- 
ing in purpose, the fault is due to the variety of 
sources from which I have selected the material. 
Some of it has been taken from serious manuscript 
which my father intended for a work of history, 
some from articles written in a lighter vein ; much 
has been gleaned from copies of letters which he 
wrote to friends, but most has been gathered from 
notes jotted down on a multitude of scraps scat- 
tered through a mass of miscellaneous material. 

D. L. 

WASHINGTON, D. C., 
March, 1895. 



PREFACE 

TO THE SECOND EDITION. 



TN deciding to bring out this book I have had 
in mind the many letters to my father from men 
of war times urging him to put in writing his recol- 
lections of Lincoln. Among them is one from Mr. 
Lincoln's friend, confidant, and adviser, A. K. 
McClure, one of the most eminent of American 
journalists, founder and late editor of " The Phila- 
delphia Times," of whom Mr. Lincoln said in 1864 
that he had more brain power than any man he 
had ever known. Quoted by Leonard Swett, in the 
" North American Review," the letter is as fol- 
lows : 

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. i, 1891. 

Hon. Ward H. Lamon, Carlsbad, Bohemia: 

MY DEAR OLD FRIEND, .... I think it a great 
misfortune that you did not write the history of Lincoln's 
administration. It is much more needed from your pen 
than the volume you published some years ago, giving the 
history of his life. That straw has been thrashed over 



Vlii PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. 

and over again and you were not needed in that work 
but there are so few who had any knowledge of the inner 
workings of Mr. Lincoln's administration that I think you 
owe it to the proof of history to finish the work you be- 
gan. and never knew anything about Mr. Lin- 
coln. They knew the President in his routine duties and in 
his official ways, but the man Lincoln and his plans and 
methods were all Greek to them. They have made a history 
that is quite correct so far as data is concerned, but be- 
yond that it is full of gross imperfections, especially when 
they attempt to speak of Mr. Lincoln's individual qualities 
and movements. Won't you consider the matter of writ- 
ing another volume on Lincoln ? I sincerely hope that 
you will do so. Herndon covered about everything that 
is needed outside of confidential official circles in Wash- 
ington. That he could not write as he knew nothing 
about it, and there is no one living who can perform that 

task but yourself .... 

Yours truly, 

(Signed) A. K. McCuiRE. 

I have been influenced also by a friend who is 
a great Lincoln scholar and who, impressed with 
the injustice done my father, has urged me for 
several years to reissue the book of " Recollec- 
tions," add a sketch of his life and publish letters 
that show his standing during Lincoln's administra- 
tion. I hesitated to do this, remembering the 
following words of Mr. Lincoln at Lancaster, Penn- 
sylvania, on his way to Washington : " It is well 
known that the more a man speaks the less he is 



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION. IX 

understood the more he says one thing, the more 
his adversaries contend he meant something else." 
I am now yielding to these influences with the 
hope that however much the book may suggest a 
" patchwork quilt " and be permeated with Lamon 
as well as Lincoln, it will yet appeal to those 
readers who care for documentary evidence in 
matters historical. 

DOROTHY LAMON TEILLARD. 
WASHINGTON, D. C, 
April, 1911. 



CONTENTS. 



LETTER FROM EX-SECRETARY USHER. 
LETTER FROM A. K. MCCLURE. 
MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

CHAPTER I. 

EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 

Page 

Prominent Features of Mr. Lincoln's Life written by himself 9 

Purpose of Present Volume 13 

Riding the Circuit 14 

Introduction to Mr. Lincoln 14 

Difference in Work in Illinois and in Virginia 15 

Mr. Lincoln's Victory over Rev. Peter Cartwright ....15 

Lincoln Subject Enough for the People 16 

Mr. Lincoln's Love of a Joke Could " Contribute Nothing 

to the End in View " 16 

A Branch of Law Practice which Mr. Lincoln could not learn 17 

Refusal to take Amount of Fee given in Scott Case . . . 18 

Mr. Lincoln tried before a Mock Tribunal 19 

Low Charges for Professional Service 20 

Amount of Property owned by Mr. Lincoln when he took the 

Oath as President of the United States 20 

Introduction to Mrs. Lincoln 21 

Mrs. Lincoln's Prediction in 1847 that her Husband would be 

President 21 

The Lincoln and Douglas Senatorial Campaign in 1858 . . 22 

" Smelt no Royalty in our Carriage " 22 

Mr. Lincoln denies that he voted against the Appropriation 

for Supplies to Soldiers during Mexican War .... 23 

Jostles the Muscular Democracy of a Friend 24 

Political Letter of 1858 26 

Prediction of Hon. J. G. Elaine regarding Lincoln and 

Douglas 27 



Xll CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER II. 

JOURNEY FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 

Page 

Time between Election and Departure for Washington . . 28 

Mr. Lincoln's Farewell to his Friends in Springfield . .""*. 30 

At Indianapolis 32 

Speeches made with the Object of saying Nothing . . . . 33 

At Albany Letter of Mr. Thurlow Weed 34 

Loss of Inaugural Address 35 

At Philadelphia Detective and alleged Conspiracy to mur- 
der Mr. Lincoln 38 

Plans for Safety 40 

At Harrisburg 40 

Col. Sumner's Opinion of the Plan to thwart Conspiracy . . 41 
Selection of One Person to accompany Mr. Lincoln ... 42 
At West Philadelphia Careful Arrangements to avoid Dis- 
covery 43 

At Baltimore " It 's Four O'clock " 45 

At Washington 45 

Arrival at Hotel 46 



CHAPTER III. 
INAUGURATION. 

Formation of Cabinet and Administration Policy 48 

Opposition to Mr. Chase 49 

Alternative List of Cabinet Members 50 

Politicians realize for the First Time the Indomitable Will of 

Mr. Lincoln 51 

Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase, Men of Opposite Principles . . 51 

Mr. Seward not to be the real Head of the Administration . 52 

Preparations for Inauguration 53 

Introduction by Senator Baker 53 

Impression made by Inaugural Address 54 

Oath of Office Administered 54 

The Call of the New York Delegation on the President . . 55 



CONTENTS, Xl'ii 

CHAPTER IV. 

GLOOMY FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 

Page 

Geographical Lines distinctly drawn 56 

Behavior of the 36th Congress 57 

Letter of Hon. Joseph Holt on the " Impending Tragedy " . 58 

South Carolina formally adopts the Ordinance of Secession 62 

Southern Men's Opinion of Slavery 62 

Mr. Lincoln imagines Himself in the Place of the Slave- 

Holder 65 

Judge J. S. Black on Slavery as regarded by the Southern 

Man 66 

Emancipation a Question of Figures as well as Feeling . . 66 

Mission to Charleston 68 

" Bring back a Palmetto, if you can't bring Good News " . . 70 

Why General Stephen A. Hurlbut went to Charleston ... 70 
Visit to Mr. James L. Pettigrew Peaceable Secession or 

War Inevitable 71 

"A great Goliath from the North" "A Yankee Lincoln- 
Hireling " 72 

Initiated into the great " Unpleasantness " 73 

Interview with Governor Pickens No Way out of Existing 

Difficulties but to fight out 74 

Passes written by Governor Pickens 75, 78 

Interview with Major Anderson 75 

Rope strong enough to hang a Lincoln- Hireling 76 

Timely Presence of Hon. Lawrence Keith 77 

Extremes of Southern Character exemplified 77 

Interview with the Postmaster of Charleston 78 

Experience of General Hurlbut in Charleston 79 



CHAPTER V. 
HIS SIMPLICITY. 

The Ease with which Mr. Lincoln could be reached . . . . 80 

Visit of a Committee from Missouri 81 

A Missouri " Orphan " in Trouble 82 

Protection Paper for Betsy Ann Dougherty 83 

Case of Young Man convicted of Sleeping at his Post ... 86 



xiv CONTENTS. 

Page 
Reprieve given to a Man whom a "little Hanging would not 

hurt" 87 

An Appeal for Mercy that failed 88 

An Appeal for the Release of a Church in Alexandria ... 89 
" Reason " why Sentence of Death should not be passed upon 

a Parricide 90 

The Tennessee Rebel Prisoner who was Religious .... 90 

The Lord on our Side or We on the Side of the Lord ... 91 

Clergymen at the White House 91 

Number of Rebels in the Field 92 

Mr. Lincoln dismisses Committee of Fault-Finding Clergy- 
men 93 

Mistaken Identity and the Sequel 94 

Desire to be like as well as of and for the People .... 96 

Hat Reform 97 

Mr. Lincoln and his Gloves . 97 

Bearing a Title should not injure the Austrian Count ... 99 



CHAPTER VI. 

HIS TENDERNESS. 

Mr. Lincoln's Tenderness toward Animals 101 

Mr. Lincoln refuses to sign Death Warrants for Deserters 

Kind Words better than Cold Lead 102 

How Mr. Lincoln shared the Sufferings of the Wounded 

Soldiers 103 

Letters of Condolence . . 106-108 



CHAPTER VII. 

DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 

Superstition A Rent in the Veil which hides from Mortal 

View what the Future holds m 

The Day of Mr. Lincoln's Renomination at Baltimore . . 112 

Double Image in Looking-Glass Premonition of Impend- 
ing Doom 112 

Mr. Lincoln relates a Dream which he had a Few Days be- 
fore his Assassination 114 



CONTENTS. XV 

Page 

A Dream that always portended an Event of National Im- 
portance 118 

Mr. Lincoln's Last Drive no, 

Mr. Lincoln's Philosophy concerning Presentiments and 

Dreams 121 

CHAPTER VIII. 

THE HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 

Mr. Lincoln calls himself " Only a Retail Story-Dealer" . . 123 

The Purpose of Mr. Lincoln's Stories 124 

Mr. Lincoln shocks the Public Printer 124 

A General who had formed an Intimate Acquaintance with 

himself 125 

Charles I. held up as a Model for Mr. Lincoln's Guidance in 

Dealing with Insurgents Had no Head to Spare . . 127 
Question of whether Slaves would starve if Emancipated . 127 
Mr. Lincoln expresses his Opinion of Rebel Leaders to Con- 
federate Commissioners at the Peace Conference . . . 128 
Impression made upon Mr. Lincoln by Alex. H. Stephens . 129 

Heading a Barrel 129 

A Fight, its Serious Outcome, and Mr. Lincoln's Kindly 

View of the Affair 130 

Not always easy for Presidents to have Special Trains fur- 
nished them 132 

Mr. Lincoln's .Reason for not being in a Hurry to Catch the 

Train 133 

" Something must be done in the Interest of the Dutch " . 134 

San Domingo Affair 134 

Cabinet had shrunk up North 135 

111 Health of Candidates for the Position of Commissioner 

of the Sandwich Islands 135 

Encouragement to Young Lawyer who lost his Case . . . 136 
Settle the Difficulty without Reference to Who commenced 

the Fuss 137 

" Doubts about the Abutment on the Other Side " . . . . 138 
Mr. Anthony J. Bleeker tells his Experience in Applying for 

a Position Believed in Punishment after Death . . 138 
Mr. Lincoln points out a Marked Trait in one of the North- 
ern Governors 140 

" Ploughed around him " 142 

Revenge on Enemy 143 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. LINCOLN'S LOVE OF SONG. 

Page 

If a Cause of Action is Good it needs no Vindication . . . 144 

Letter from A. J. Perkins 145 

Mr. Lincoln's Own Statement of the Antietam Affair . . . 147 

One " Little Sad Song" 150 

Well Timed Rudeness of Kind Intent 151 

Favorite Songs 152 

Adam and Eve's Wedding Day 152 

Favorite Poem: "O Why Should the Spirit of Mortal be 

Proud?" 153 

CHAPTER X. 

HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 

The Incident which led Mr. Lincoln to wear a Beard ... 158 

The Knife that fairly belonged to Mr. Lincoln 159 

Mr. Lincoln is introduced to the Painter of his " Beautiful 

Portrait" 160 

Death of Mr. Lincoln's Favorite Child 161 

Measures taken to break the Force of Mr. Lincoln's Grief . 162 

The Invasion of Tad's Theatre 164 

Tad introduces some Kentucky Gentlemen ...... 166 

CHAPTER XI. 

THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 

The Gettysburg Speech 169 

A Modesty which scorned Eulogy for Achievements not 

his Own 170 

Mr. Lincoln's Regret that he had not prepared the Gettys- 
burg Speech with Greater Care 173 

Mr. Everett's and Secretary Seward's Opinion of the Speech 174 

The Reported Opinion of Mr. Everett 174 

Had unconsciously risen to a Height above the Cultured 

Thought of the Period 176 

Intrinsic Excellence of the Speech first discovered by Euro- 
pean Journals ... 176 



CONTENTS. Xvii 

Page 
How the News of Mr. Lincoln's Death was received by 

Other Nations 176 

Origin of Phrase " Government of the People, by the Peo- 
ple, and for the People " 177 

CHAPTER XII. 

HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 

An Intrigue to appoint a Dictator 180 

" Power, Plunder, and Extended Rule " 181 

Feared Nothing except to commit an Involuntary Wrong . 182 
President of One Part of a Divided Country Not a Bed of 

Roses 182 

Mr. Lincoln asserts himself 184 

Demands for General Grant's Removal 184 

Distance from the White House to the Capitol 185 

Stoical Firmness of Mr. Lincoln in standing by General Grant 185 

Letter from Mr. Lincoln to General Grant 186 

The Only Occasion of a Misunderstanding between the Presi- 
dent and General Grant 187 

Special Order Relative to Trade-Permits 188 

Extract from Wendell Phillips's Speech ....... 189 

Willing to abide the Decision of Time 190 

Unworthy Ambition of Politicians and the Jealousies in the 

Army 191 

Resignation of General Burnside Appointment of Suc- 
cessor 192 

War conducted at the Dictation of Political Bureaucracy . 193 

Letter to General Hooker 194 

Mr. Lincoln's Treatment of the Subject of Dictatorship . . 195 

Symphony of Bull-Frogs 196 

" A Little More Light and a Little Less Noise " .... 198 

CHAPTER XIII. 

HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 

Mr. Lincoln not a Creature of Circumstances ..... 199 

Subordination of High Officials to Mr. Lincoln 200 

The Condition of the Army at Beginning and Close of Gen- 
eral McClellan's Command 201 



xviii CONTENTS. 

Page 
Mr. Lincoln wanted to "borrow" the Army if General 

McClellan did not want to use it 202 

Mr. Lincoln's Opinion of General McClellan. A Protest 

denouncing the Conduct of McClellan 203 

Mr. Lincoln alone Responsible to the Country for General 

McClellan's Appointment as Commander of the Forces 

at Washington 204 

Confidential Relationship between Francis P. Blair and Mr. 

Lincoln 205 

Mr. Blajr's Message to General McClellan 206 

General McClellan repudiates the Obvious Meaning of the 

Democratic Platform 207 

Mr. Lincoln hopes to be "Dumped on the Right Side of the 

Stream "....... 208 

I>ast Appeal to General McClellan's Patriotism 208 

Proposition Declined 210 

CHAPTER XIV. 

HIS MAGNANIMITY. 

Public Offices in no Sense a Fund upon which to draw for 

the -Payment of Private Accounts 212 

Busy letting Rooms while the House was on Fire .... 214 

Peremptory Order to General Meade 214 

Conditions of Proposition to renounce all Claims to Presi- 
dency and throw Entire Influence in Behalf of Horatio 

Seymour 215 

Mr. Thurlow Weed to effect Negotiation 216 

Mr. Lincoln deterred from making the Magnanimous Self- 

Saorifice 217 

How Mr. Lincoln thought the Currency was made .... 217 
Mr. Chase explains the System of Checks The President 

impressed with Danger from this Source 218 

First Proposition to Mr. Lincoln to issue Interest-Bearing 
Notes as Currency The Interview between David 

Taylor and Secretary Chase 220 

Mr. Lincoln's Honesty Some Legal Rights and Moral 

Wrongs 222 

Mr. Lincoln annuls the Proceedings of Court-Martial in Case 

of Franklin W. Smith and Brother 222 

Senator Sherman omits Criticism of Lincoln 223 

Release of Roger A. Pryor' ." 224 



CONTENTS. xix 



CHAPTER XV. 

CABINET COUNSELS. 

Page 

The "Trent "Affair 227 

Spirit of Forgiveness (?) toward England 229 

The Interview which led to the Appointment of Mr. Stanton 

as Secretary of -War 230 

Correspondence with Hon. William A. Wheeler .... 231 

The Appointment of Mr. Stanton a Surprise to the Country 232 

Mr. Stanton's Rudeness to Mr. Lincoln in 1858 236 

Mr. Lincoln abandons a Message to Congress in Deference 
to the Opinion of his Cabinet Proposed Appropriation 
of $3,000,000 as Compensation to Owners of Liberated 

Slaves 237 

Mr. Stanton's Refusal of Permits to go through the Lines 

into Insurgent Districts 239 

Not Much Influence with this Administration 239 

Mr. Stanton's Resignation not accepted 239 

The Seven. Words added by Mr. Chase to the Proclamation 

of Emancipation 240 

Differen.ce between " Qualified Voters" and "Citizens of the 

State" . 240 

Letter of Governor Hahn 241 

Universal Suffrage One of Doubtful Propriety 242 

Not in Favor of Unlimited Social Equality 242 

The Conditions under which Mr. Lincoln wanted the War 

to Terminate 243 

The Rights and Duties of the Gentleman and of the Vagrant 

are the Same in Time of War 245 

What was. to. be the Disposition of the Leaders of the Re- 
bellion. .. .. ,. 246 

Mr. Lincoln a.nd. Jefferson Davis on an Imaginary Island . 247 
Disposition pf .Jefferson Davis discussed at a Cabinet 

Meeting 248 

Principal Events of Life of Mr. Davis after the War . . . 249 
Discussing the .MUitary. Situation Terms of Peace must 

emanate from Mr. Lincoln 250 

Telegram to General Grant 251 

Dignified Reply of General Grant 252 



XX CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

CONFLICT BETWEEN CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITY. 

Page 
Difficulties attending the Execution of the Fugitive Slave 

Law 254 

Civil Authority outranked the Military 255 

District Jail an Objective Point 257 

Resignation of Marshal 258 

Marshal's Office made a Subject of Legislation in Congress 259 

A Result of Blundering Legislation 259 

Mr. Lincoln's Existence embittered by Personal and Political 

Attacks 260 

Rev. Robert Collyer and the Rustic Employee 261 



CHAPTER XVII. 

PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 

Conspiracy to kidnap Mr. Buchanan 264 

Second Scheme of Abduction 265 

Mr. Lincoln relates the Details of a Dangerous Ride . . . 265 

A Search for Mr. Lincoln 271 

Mr. Lincoln's Peril during Ceremonies of his Second In- 
auguration Booth's Phenomenal Audacity .... 271 
The Polish Exile from whom Mr. Lincoln feared Assault . 273 
An Impatient Letter appealing to Mr. Lincoln's Prudence . 274 

Mr. Lincoln's high Administrative Qualities 276 

But Few Persons apprehended Danger to Mr. Lincoln . . 276 
General Grant receives the News of the Assassination of 

Mr. Lincoln A Narrow Escape 278 

Last Passport written by Mr. Lincoln 280 

Mr. Lincoln requested to make a Promise 280 

Mr. Lincoln's Farewell to his Marshal . . \ , . 281 



Lincoln's Last Laugh 282 

Willing to concede Much to Democrats 286 

Eastern Shore Maryland 287 

Honesty in Massachusetts and Georgia 287 



CONTENTS. XXI 

Page 

McClellan seems to be Lost 288 

Battle of Antietam, Turning-point in Lincoln's Career . . 289 

Motto for the Greenback 289 

" Niggers will never be higher " 290 

Lincoln in a Law Case 291 

Lincoln's Views of the American or Know-Nothing Party . 299 

Account of Arrangement for Cooper Institute Speech . . 300 

" Rail Splitter " 303 

Temperance 305 

Shrewdness 309 

Religion 333 



INDEX OF LETTERS. 



Black, Jeremiah S., 329 

B "ggs, J as - A -, 3 

Catron, J., 330 

Davis, David, xxxii, 317, 324 

Doubleday, A., 326 

Douglas, S. A., 319 

Faulkner, Chas. J., 327 

Fell, Jesse W., 11 

Field, Eugene, xxxv 

Field, Kate, 306 

Foster, Chas. H., 325 

Grant, Gen., to Secy. Stanton, 

252 
Hanna, W. H., 317, 320, 326, 

33i 

Harmon, O. F., 314 
Hatch, O. M., 313, 316 
Henderson, D. P., 331 
Holt, J., 58 

Hurlburt, Stephen A., 79 
Kress, Jno. A., 256 
Lamon, W. H., xxvi, 231, 274, 

307, 333 
Lemon, J. E., 319 



Lincoln, A., xxiii, xxix, 26, 106, 
1 08, 1 86, 194, 241, 301, 309 

Logan, S. T., xxviii, 328 

McClure, A. K., vii 

Murray, Bronson, 311, 312 

Oglesby, R. J., 330 

Perkins, A. J., 145 

Pickens, Gov. F. W., 75, 78 

Pleasanton, A., 289 

Pope, John, 316 

Scott, Winfield, 314 

Seward, W. H., xxxi 

Shaffer, J. W., 329 

Smith, Jas. H., 312 

Stanton, Ed. M., 252 

Swett, Leonard, 313, 318 

Taylor, Hawkins, 315, 327 

Usher, Secy. J. P., v, xxv, 320, 
322 

Weed, Thurlow, 34 

Weldon, Lawrence, xxxii, 318 

Wentworth, Jno., 331 

Wheeler, Wm. A., 234 

Yates, Richard, xxiv 



LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 




WARD HILL LAMON. 



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LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

WARD H. LAMON was born in Frederick County, 
about two miles north of Winchester, in the state of 
Virginia, on the 6th day of January, 1828. Two years after 
his birth his parents moved to Berkeley County in what is 
now West Virginia, near a little town called Bunker Hill, 
where he received a common school education. At the age 
of seventeen he began the study of medicine which he soon 
abandoned for law. When nineteen years of age he went 
to Illinois and settled in Danville; afterwards attending 
lectures at the Louisville (Ky.) Law School. Was admitted 
to the Bar of Kentucky in March, 1850, and in January, 1851, 
he was admitted to the Illinois Bar, which comprised Abra- 
ham Lincoln, Judge Stephen T. Logan, Judge David Davis, 
Leonard Swett, and others of that famous coterie, all of 
whom were his fast friends. 



w^uC*- OxUK 



Af&T>< f 4(T-&l~~~a*~X:-, 

Conclusion of a Legal Document signed by Lincoln and Lamon. 

They all rode the circuit together, there being no railroads 
at that time in the State. And it has been said that, " It 
is doubtful if the bar of any other state of the union equalled 
that of the frontier state of Illinois in professional ability 
when Lincoln won his spurs." A legal partnership was 
formed between Mr. Lamon and Mr. Lincoln for the prac- 



xxiv MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

tice of law in the eighth District. Headquarters of this 
partnership was first at Danville and then at Bloomington. 
Was elected District Attorney for the eighth District in 
1856, which office he continued to hold until called upon 
by Mr. Lincoln to accompany him to Washington. It was 
upon Mr. Lamon that Mr. Lincoln and his friends relied to 
see him safely to the National Capitol, when it became nec- 
essary at Harrisburg to chose one companion for the rest 
of the journey.* 

He was appointed Marshal of the District of Columbia, 
which position at that time was much more of a social func- 
tion than it was in after years. The Marshal performed 
some of the ceremonies which have since been delegated to 
the Superintendent of Public Buildings and Grounds. He 
introduced people to the President on state occasions and 

* EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, 

SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Feb. 9, 1861. 

DEAR GOVERNOR, You will bear me witness that I seldom 
trouble my friends in Washington with letters of introduction. I 
must now ask you to indulge me in a suspension of this general 
rule, especially as my object has as much to do with your future 
as my own. 

W. H. Lamon, Esq., of our state visits Washington upon the 
invitation of Mr. Lincoln as his escort and companion. He is 
one of our ablest young lawyers, a man of strong and vigorous 
intellect and of influence throughout the entire state equal to.any 
man in the state. 

His social qualities upon intimate acquaintance are of the finest 
type. He is chivalrous, courageous, generous. 

His integrity is unquestioned. Though inclined to be conser- 
vative, he is a Republican firm, and from principle. He is, however, 
retiring and not disposed to press himself on any one. May I 
ask of you that you will be kind to him as you were to me, and 

very much oblige 

Your friend, 

RICHARD YATES. 
HON. WM. H. SEWARD. 



MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. XXV 

was the general social factotum of the Executive Mansion. 
The position of Marshal was not of his own choosing. Had 
he consulted his own taste he would have preferred some 
appointment in Europe.* It was almost settled that he was 
to be sent as Consul to Paris, but in deference to Mr. Lin- 
coln's wish to have him near him in the trying times which 
he anticipated, he shouldered the duties of Marshal at this 
dangerous period, when it was one of much friction and 
difficulty, as slavery ruled for a hundred miles north and a 
thousand miles south and west of the Capitol. 

After the law was passed emancipating the slaves in the 
District of Columbia, that territory was made, or sought to 
be made, the asylum for the unemancipated slaves of the 
States of Maryland and Virginia. Mr. Lincoln was not yet 
ready to issue his general emancipation proclamation ; the 
Fugitive Slave law was still in force and was sought to be 
enforced. This condition of things was seized upon by 
many political demagogues to abuse the President over the 
shoulders of the Marshal. They exaggerated the truly de- 
plorable condition of the bondmen and made execrable all 
officers of the Government, whose duty it became to execute 
laws of their own making. 

The jail was at that time in the custody of the Marshal, 
and he was responsible for the safe keeping of twice as many 
criminals as his means of keeping them safely justified; 



Feb. 4, 1 66 1. 
HON. A. LINCOLN: 

DEAR SIR, It affords me much satisfaction to hear that you 
have invited our excellent friend W. H. Lamon to accompany 
you to Washington and hope that there may be no necessity to 
interfere with his appointment to the consulate at Paris, that will 
give us all unbounded pleasure. 

Very truly your friend, 

J. P. USHER. 



XXvi MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

Congress being responsible for the insufficiency of those 
means. To have performed the official requirements of that 
office in pursuance of the then existing laws and the official 
oath required, and at the same time given satisfaction to 
the radical element of the Republican party, was impossible; 
hence the vindictive persecution that followed which con- 
tinued in the Republican party against Marshal Lamon to 
the end of his life. 

Colonel Lamon was a strong Union man but was greatly 
disliked by the Abolitionists; was considered proslavery by 
them for permitting his subordinates to execute the old Mary- 
land laws in reference to negroes, which had been in force 
since the District was ceded to the Federal Government. 
After an unjust attack upon him in the Senate, they at 
last reached the point where they should have begun, intro- 
duced a bill to repeal the obnoxious laws which the Marshal 
was bound by his oath of office to execute. When the fight 
on the Marshal was the strongest in the Senate, he sent in 
the following resignation to Mr. Lincoln : 

WASHINGTON, D. C., Jany. 31, 1862. 
HON. A. LINCOLN, President, United States : 

SIR, I hereby resign my office as Marshal for the District of 
Columbia. Your invariable friendship and kindness for a long 
course of years which you have ever extended to me impel me to 
give the reasons for this course. There appears to be a studious 
effort upon the part of the more radical portion of that party 
which placed you in power to pursue me with a relentless persecu- 
tion, and I am now under condemnation by the United States 
Senate for doing what I am sure meets your approval, but by the 
course pursued by that honorable body I fear you will be driven 
to the necessity of either sustaining the action of that body, or 
breaking with them and sustaining me, which you cannot afford 
to do under the circumstances. 

I appreciate your embarrassing position in the matter, and feel 
as unselfish in the premises as you have ever felt and acted 



MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. XXV11 

towards me in the course of fourteen years of uninterrupted 
friendship ; now when our country is in danger, I deem it but 
proper, having your successful administration of this Government 
more at heart than my own pecuniary interests, to relieve you of 
this embarrassment by resigning that office which you were kind 
enough to confide to my charge, and in doing so allow me to as- 
sure you that you have my best wishes for your health and happi- 
ness, for your successful administration of this Government, the 
speedy restoration to peace, and a long and useful life in the en 
joyment of your present high and responsible office. 
I have the honor to be 

Your friend and obedient servant, 

WARD H. LAMON. 

Mr. Lincoln refused to accept this resignation for reasons 
which he partly expressed to Hon. William Kellogg, Mem- 
ber of Congress from Illinois, at a Presidential reception 
about this time. When Judge Kellogg was about to pass on 
after shaking the President's hand Mr. Lincoln said, " Kel 
logg, I want you to stay here. I want to talk to you when 1 
have a chance. While you are waiting watch Lamon 
(Lamon was making the presentations at the time). He 
is most remarkable. He knows more people and can call 
more by name than any man I ever saw." 

After the reception Kellogg said, " I don't know but you 
are mistaken in your estimate of Lamon ; there are many of 
our associates in Congress who don't place so high an esti- 
mate on his character and have little or no faith in him what- 
ever." "Kellogg," said Lincoln, "you fellows at the other 
end of the Avenue seem determined to deprive me of every 
friend I have who is near me and whom I can trust. Now, 
let me tell you, sir, he is the most unselfish man I ever saw ; 
is discreet, powerful, and the most desperate man in emer- 
gency I have ever seen or ever expect to see. He is my 
friend and I am his and as long as I have these great re- 
sponsibilities on me I intend to insist on his being with me, 
and I will stick by him at all hazards." Kellogg, seeing he 



XXVlil MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

had aroused the President more than he expected, said, " Hold 
on, Lincoln ; what I said of our mutual friend Lamon was in 
jest. I am also his friend and believe with you about him. 
I only intended to draw you out so that I might be able to 
say something further in his favor with your endorsement. 
In the House today I defended him and will continue to do 
so. I know Lamon clear through." " Well, Judge," said 
Lincoln, " I thank you. You can say to your friends in the 
House and elsewhere that they will have to bring stronger 
proof than any I have seen yet to make me think that Hill 
Lamon is not the most important man to me I have around 
me." 

Every charge preferred against the Marshal was proven 
groundless, but the Senators and Representatives who had 
joined in this inexcusable persecution ever remained his 
enemies as did also the radical press.* 

The following is a sample of many letters received by 
Colonel Lamon about this time: 

March, 23, 1862. 

... I was rather sorry that you should have thought that I 
needed to see any evidence in regard to the war Grimes & Com- 
pany were making on you to satisfy me as to what were the facts. 
No one, however, had any doubt but that they made the attack on 
you for doing your duty under the law. Such men as he and his 
coadjutors think every man ought to be willing to commit perjury 
or any other crime in pursuit of their abolition notions. 

We suppose, however, that they mostly designed the attack on 
you as a blow at Lincoln and as an attempt to reach him through 

* At this time the Grand Jury of Washington County, District 
of Columbia, found a bill of indictment against Horace Greeley, 
of the New York " Tribune," for malicious libel of a public 
officer, the U. S. Marshal. The Marshal was averse to this pro- 
cedure, but the jury having the facts before them regarded the 
offence as so flagrant that the case was vigorously prosecuted. 



MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. XXIX 

his friends. I do not doubt but they would be glad to drive every 
personal friend to Lincoln out of Washington. 

I ought to let you know, however, that you have risen more 
than an hundred per cent in the estimation of my wife on account 
of your having so acted as to acquire the enmity of the Abolition- 
ists. I believe firmly that if we had not got the Republican 
nomination for him (Lincoln) the Country would have been gone. 
I don't know whether it can be saved yet, but I hope so. ... 

Write whenever you have leisure. 

Yours respectfully, 

S. T. LOGAN. 

Mr. Lincoln had become very unpopular with the politi- 
cians not so with the masses, however. Members of Con- 
gress gave him a wide berth and eloquently " left him alone 
with his Martial Cloak around him." It pained him that he 
could not please everybody, but he said it was impossible. 
In a conversation with Lamon about his personal safety 
Lincoln said, " I have more reason today to apprehend danger 
to myself personally from my own partisan friends than I 
have from all other sources put together." This estrange- 
ment between him and his former friends at such a time no 
doubt brought him to a more confidential relation with 
Colonel Lamon than would have been otherwise. 

In May, 1861, Lamon was authorized to organize and com- 
mand a regiment of volunteer Infantry, and subsequently his 
command was increased to a brigade.* 

Raising troops at the commencement of the war cost 



WASHINGTON, D. C., June 25, 1861. 
* COL. W. H. LAMON : 

MY DEAR SIR, I spoke to the Secretary of War yesterday, 
and he consents, and so do I, that as fast as you get Companies, 
you may procure a U. S. officer, and have them mustered in. 
Have this done quietly ; because we can not do the labor of adopt- 
ing it as a general practice. 

Yours as ever, 

A. LINCOLN. 



XXX MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

Colonel Lamon $22,000, for which he never asked the 
Government to reimburse a dollar. Mr. Lincoln urged him 
to put in his vouchers and receive it back, but Lamon did 
not want to place himself in the position that any evil- 
disposed person could question his integrity or charge him 
with having wrongfully received from the Government one 
dollar. 

His military service in the field, however, was of short 
duration from May, 1861, to December of that year for 
his services were in greater demand at the Nation's Capital. 
He held the commission of Colonel during the war. 

Colonel Lamon was charged with several important missions 
for Mr. Lincoln, one of the most delicate and dangerous 
being a confidential mission to Charleston, S. C., less than 
three weeks before the firing on Sumter. 

At the time of the death of Mr. Lincoln, Lamon was in 
Richmond. It was believed by many who were familiar with 
Washington affairs, including Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, 
that had Lamon been in the city on the i4th of April, 1865, 
that appalling tragedy at Ford's Theatre would have been 
averted. 

From the time of the arrival of the President-elect at 
Washington until just before his assassination, Lamon 
watched over his friend and Chief with exceeding intelligence 
and a fidelity that knew no rest. It has been said of Lamon 
that, "The faithful watch and vigil long with which he 
guarded Lincoln's person during those four years was 
seldom, if ever, equalled by the fidelity of man to man." 
Lamon is perhaps best known for the courage and watchful 
devotion with which he guarded Lincoln during the stormy 
days of the Civil War. 

After Lincoln's death it was always distasteful to Lamon 
to go to the White House. He resigned his position in June 
following Mr. Lincoln's death in the face of the remonstrance 
of the Administration. 



MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. Xxxi 

The following is a copy of a letter of Mr. Seward accept- 
ing his resignation : 

DEPARTMENT OF STATE, 

WASHINGTON, June 10, 1865. 
To WARD H. LAMON, Esq., 

Marshal of the United States 

for the District of Columbia, 
Washington, D. C. 

MY DEAR SIR, The President directs me to acknowledge 
the receipt of your letter of the 8th instant, in which you tender 
your resignation as Marshal of the United States for the District 
of Columbia. 

He accepts your resignation, as you desire, to take effect on 
Monday, the i2th instant, but in so doing deems it no more than 
right to say that he regrets that you should have asked him to do 
so. Since his advent here, he has heard from those well qualified 
to speak of your unwavering loyalty and of your constant per- 
sonal fidelity to the late President. These are qualities which 
have obtained for you the reputation of a faithful and fearless 
public officer, and they are just such qualities as the Government 
can ill afford to lose in any of its Departments. They will, I 
doubt not, gain for you in any new occupation which you may 
undertake the same reputation and the same success you have 
obtained in the position of United States Marshal of this District. 

Very truly yours, 
(Signed) WILLIAM H. SEWARD. 

Colonel Lamon was never just to himself. He cared little 
for either fame or fortune. He regarded social fidelity as one 
of the highest virtues. When President Johnson wished to 
make him a Member of his Cabinet and offered him the 
position of Postmaster-General, Lamon pleaded the cause of 
the incumbent so effectually that the President was compelled 
to abandon the purpose. 

Judge David Davis, many years on the U. S. Supreme 
Bench, and administrator of Mr. Lincoln's estate, wrote the 
following under date of May 23, 1865, to Hon. Wm. H. 
Seward, Secretary of State. 



XXxii MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

There is one matter of a personal nature which I wish to sug- 
gest to you. Mr. Lincoln was greatly attached to our friend Col. 
Ward H. Lamon. I doubt whether he had a warmer attachment 
to anybody, and I know that it was reciprocated. Col. Lamon 
has for a long time wanted to resign his office and had only held 
it at the earnest request of Mr. Lincoln. 

Mr. Lincoln would have given him the position of Governor of 
Idaho. Col. Lamon is well qualified for that place. He would 
be popular there. He understands Western people and few men 
have more friends. I should esteem it as a great favor personally 
if you could secure the place for him. If you can't succeed no- 
body else can. Col. Lamon will make no effort and will use no 
solicitation. 

He is one of the dearest friends I have in the world. He may 
have faults, and few of us are without them, but he is as true as 
steel, honorable, high minded, and never did a mean thing in his 
life. Excuse the freedom with which I have written. 

May I beg to be remembered to your son and to your family. 

Yours most truly, 

DAVID DAVIS. 

The faithfulness till death of this noble man's friendship 
is shown in the following letter written for him when he was 
dying, twenty-one years later. 

BLOOMINGTON, ILL., 

June 22, 1886. 
COL. W. H. LAMON: 

DEAR SIR, On my return from Washington about a month 
since Judge Davis said to me that he had a long letter from you 
which he intended to answer as soon as he was able to do so. 
Since that time the Judge has been declining in health until he is 
now beyond all capability of writing. I have not seen him for 
three weeks until yesterday morning when I found him in lowest 
condition of life. Rational when aroused but almost unconscious 
of his surroundings except when aroused. 

He spoke in the kindest terms of you and was much annoyed 
because an answer to your letter was postponed. He requested 
me this morning through Mrs. Davis to write you, while Mrs. 
Davis handed me the letter. I have not read it as it is a personal 
letter to the Judge. I don't know that I can say any more. 



MEMOIR OF WARD H, LAMON. XXXlll 

It was one of the saddest sights of my life to see the best and 
truest friend I ever had emaciated with disease, lingering between 
life and death. Before this reaches you the world may know of 
his death. I understood Mrs. Davis has written you. 

Very truly, 

LAWRENCE WELDON. 

In striking contrast to this beautiful friendship is another 
which one would pronounce equally strong were he to judge 
the man who professed it from his letters to Lamon, cover- 
ing a period of twenty-five years, letters filled throughout 
with expressions of the deepest trust, love, admiration, and 
even gratitude ; but in a book published last November 
[1910] there appear letters from this same man to one of 
Lamon's bitterest enemies. In one he says, "Lamon was 
no solid firm friend of Lincoln." Let us hope he was 
sincere when he expressed just the opposite sentiment to 
Lamon, for may it not have been his poverty and not his will 
which consented to be thus " interviewed." He alludes twice 
in this same correspondence to his poverty, once when 
he gives as his reason for selling something he regretted to 
have sold that " I was a poor devil and had to sell to live," 

and again, " are you getting rich ? I am as poor as Job's 

turkey." 

One of Lamon's friends describes him : 

" Of herculean proportions and almost fabulous strength and 
agility, Lamon never knew what fear was and in the darkest days 
of the war he never permitted discouragement to affect his courage 
or weaken his faith in the final success of the Nation. Big-hearted, 
genial, generous, and chivalrous, his memory will live long in the 
land which he served so well." 

Leonard Swett wrote in the " North American Review " : 

" Lamon was all over a Virginian, strong, stout and athletic a 
Hercules in stature, tapering from his broad shoulders to his heels, 
and the handsomest man physically I ever saw. He was six feet 
high and although prudent and cautious, was thoroughly courage- 



XXXIV MEMOIR OF WARD H. LAMON. 

ous and bold. He wore that night [when he accompanied Lincoln 
from Harrisburg to Washington] two ordinary pistols, two der- 
ringers and two large knives. You could put no more elements of 
attack or defence in a human skin than were in Lamon and his 
armory on that occasion. . . . Mr. Lincoln knew the shedding the 
last drop of blood in his defence would be the most delightful act 
of Lamon's life, and that in him he had a regiment armed and 
drilled for the most efficient service." 

The four or five thousand letters left by Colonel Lamon 
show that his influence was asked on almost every question, 
and show that Mr. Lincoln was more easily reached through 
Colonel Lamon than by any other one man ; even Mrs. Lincoln 
herself asked Lamon's influence with her husband. Extracts 
from some of these letters may be found at the end of this 
volume. They breathe the real atmosphere of other days. 

After his resignation as Marshal, he resumed the practice 
of law in company with Hon. Jeremiah S. Black and his 
son, Chauncey F. Black. 

Broken in health and in fortune, he went to Colorado in 
1879, where he remained seven years. It was here that the 
beautiful friendship began between Colonel Lamon and 
Eugene Field. This friendship meant much to both of them. 
To Eugene Field, then one of the editors of the Denver 
" Tribune," who had only a boyhood recollection of Lincoln, 
it meant much to study the history of the War and the mar- 
tyred President with one who had seen much of both. To 
Colonel Lamon it was a solace and a tonic, this association 
with one in whom sentiment and humor were so delicately 
blended. 

One little incident of this friendship is -worth the telling 
because of the pathetic beauty of the verses which it 
occasioned. 

One day when Field dropped in to see Lamon he found 
him asleep on the floor. (To take a nap on the floor was a 
habit of both Lamon and Lincoln, perhaps because they 



MEMOIR OF WARD H. LASION. XXXV 

both experienced difficulty in finding lounges suited to their 
length Lamon was six feet two inches, Lincoln two inches 
taller.) Field waited some time thinking Lamon would 
wake up, but he did not ; so finally Field penciled the follow- 
ing verses on a piece of paper, pinned it to the lapel of 
Lamon's coat, and quietly left: 

As you, dear Lamon, soundly slept 
And dreamed sweet dreams upon the floor, 

Into your hiding place I crept 
And heard the music of your snore. 

A man who sleeps as now you sleep, 

Who pipes as music'ly as thou 
Who loses self in slumbers deep 

As you, O happy man, do now, 

Must have a conscience clear and free 
From troublous pangs and vain ado ; 

So ever may thy slumbers be 
So ever be thy conscience too ! 

And when the last sweet sleep of all 

Shall smooth the wrinkles from thy brow, 

May God on high as gently guard 
Thy slumbering soul as I do now. 

This incident occurred in the summer of 1882. Eleven 
years after Colonel Lamon lay dying. He was conscious to 
the last moment, but for the last sixteen hours he had lost 
the power of speech. His daughter watched him for those 
sixteen hours, hoping every moment he would be able to 
speak. She was so stunned during this long watch that she 
could not utter a prayer to comfort her father's soul, but just 
before the end came, the last lines of the little poem came to 
her like an inspiration which she repeated aloud to her dying 

father : 

" And when the last sweet sleep of all 

Shall smooth the wrinkles from thy brow, 
May God on high as gently guard 

Thy slumbering soul as I do now." 



XXXVI MEMOIR OF WARD ff. LAMON. 

These were the last words Colonel Lamon ever heard on 
earth. He died at eleven o'clock on the night of May 7th, 
1893; and many most interesting chapters of Lincoln's 
history have perished with him. 



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RECOLLECTIONS 

OF 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 



CHAPTER I. 

EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 

"\1 7HEN Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the Presi- 
dency in 1860, a campaign book-maker asked 
him to give the prominent features of his life. He 
replied in the language of Gray's " Elegy," that his life 
presented nothing but 

" The short and simple annals of the poor." 
He had, however, a few months previously, written for 
his friend Jesse W. Fell the following : 

I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Harden County, Kentucky. 
My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished 
families second families, perhaps I should say. My 
mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the 
name of Hanks, some of whom now reside in Adams, some 
others in Macon counties, Illinois My paternal grand- 
father, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham 
County, Virginia, to Kentucky, about 1781 or 2, where, a year 



IO RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

or two later, he was killed by indians, not in battle, but by 
stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest 
His ancestors, who were quakers, went to Virginia from 
Berks County, Pennsylvania An effort to identify them 
with the New England family of the same name ended in 
nothing more definite, than a similarity of Christian names in 
both families, such as Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, 
Abraham, and the like 

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of 
age; and he grew up, literally without education He re- 
moved from Kentucky to what is now Spencer county, 
Indiana, in my eighth year We reached our new home 
about the time the State came into the Union It was a 
wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in 
the woods There I grew up There were some schools, 
so called ; but no qualification was ever required of a teacher, 
beyond " readin, ivritin, and cipherin " to the Rule of 
Three If a straggler supposed to understand latin hap- 
pened to sojourn in the neighborhood, he was looked upon 
as a wizzard There was absolutely nothing to excite 
ambition for education. Of course when I came of age I did 
not know much Still, somehow, I could read, write, and 
cipher to the Rule of Three ; but that was all I have not 
been to school since The little advance I now have upon 
this store of education, I have picked up from time to time 
under the pressure of necessity 

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was 
twenty two At twenty one I came to Illinois, and 
passed the first year in Macon county Then I got to 
New-Salem at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard 
county, where I remained a year as a sort of Clerk in a 
store Then came the Black Hawk war ; and I was 
elected a Captain of Volunteers a success which gave me 
more pleasure than any I have had since I went the 
campaign, was elected, ran for the Legislature the same year 



EARLY A CQ UAINTANCE. 1 1 

(1832) and was beaten the only time I ever have been 
beaten by the people The next, and three succeeding 
biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature I was 
not a candidate afterwards. During this Legislative period 
I had studied law, and removed to Springfield to practice 
it In 1846 I was once elected to the lower House of Con- 
gress Was not a candidate for re-election From 1849 
to 1854, both inclusive, practiced law more assiduously than 
ever before Always a whig in politics ; and generally on 
the whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses I was 
losing interest in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise aroused me again What I have done since 
then is pretty well known 

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it 
may be said, I am, in height, six feet, four inches, nearly ; 
lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and 
eighty pounds ; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and 
grey eyes No other marks or brands recollected 
Yours very truly 

A. LINCOLN. 

J. W. Fell, Esq. 

WASHINGTON, D. C., March 20, 1872. 

We the undersigned hereby certify that the foregoing 
statement is in the hand-writing of Abraham Lincoln. 

DAVID DAVIS. 
LYMAN TRUMBULL. 
CHARLES SUMNER.* 

* The circumstances under which the original preceding sketch 
was written are explained in the following letter: 

NATIONAL HOTEL, WASHINGTON, D. C., 

Feb. 19, 1872. 
COLONEL WARD H. LAMON : 

DEAR SIR, In compliance with your request, I place in your 
hands a copy of a manuscript in my possession written by Abraham 
Lincoln, giving a brief account of his early history, and the com- 



12 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Were I to say in this polite age that Abraham Lincoln 
was born in a condition of life most humble and obscure, 
and that he was surrounded by circumstances most 
unfavorable to culture and to the development of that 
nobility and purity which his wonderful character after- 
ward displayed, it would shock the fastidious and super- 
fine sensibilities of the average reader, would be regarded 
as prima facie evidence of felonious intent, and would 
subject me to the charge of being inspired by an antago- 

mencement of that political career which terminated in his election 
to the Presidency. 

It may not be inappropriate to say, that some time preceding 
the writing of the enclosed, finding, in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, 
a laudable curiosity in the public mind to know more about the 
early history of Mr. Lincoln, and looking, too, to the possibilities 
of his being an available candidate for the Presidency in 1860, I 
had on several occasions requested of him this information, and 
that it was not without some hesitation he placed in my hands 
even this very modest account of himself, which he did in the 
month of December, 1859. 

To this were added, by myself, other facts bearing upon his 
legislative and political history, and the whole forwarded to a 
friend residing in my native county (Chester, Pa.), the Hon. 
Joseph J. Lewis, former Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 
who made them the basis of an ably-written and somewhat elabo- 
rate memoir of the late President, which appeared in the Pennsyl- 
vania and other papers of the country in January, 1860, and which 
contributed to prepare the way for the subsequent nomination at 
Chicago the following June. 

Believing this brief and unpretending narrative, written by him- 
self in his own peculiar vein, and in justice to him I should add, 
without the remotest expectation of its ever appearing in public, 
with the attending circumstances, may be of interest to the 
numerous admirers of that historic and truly great man, I place it 
at your disposal. 

I am truly yours, 

JESSE W. FELL. 



EARLY A CQ UAINTANCE. 1 3 

nistic animus. In justice to the truth of history, how- 
ever, it must be acknowledged that such are the facts 
concerning this great man, regarding whom nothing 
should be concealed from public scrutiny, either in the 
surroundings of his birth, his youth, his manhood, or his 
private and public life and character. Let all the facts 
concerning him be known, and he will appear brighter 
and purer by the test. 

It may well be said of him that he is probably the 
only man, dead or living, whose true and faithful life 
could be written and leave the subject more ennobled 
by the minutiae of the record. His faults are but " the 
shadows which his virtues cast." It is my purpose in 
these recollections to give the reader a closer view 
of the great war President than is afforded by current 
biographies, which deal mainly with the outward phases 
of his life ; and in carrying out this purpose I will en- 
deavor to present that many-sided man in those relations 
where his distinguishing traits manifest themselves most 
strongly. 

With the grandeur of his figure in history, with his 
genius and his achievements as the model statesman and 
chief magistrate, all men are now familiar ; but there yet 
remain to be sketched many phases of his inner life. 
Many of the incidents related in these sketches came to 
my knowledge through my long-continued association 
with him both in his private and public life ; therefore, 
if the Ego shall seem at times pushed forward to undue 
prominence, it will be because of its convenience, or 



14 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

rather necessity, certainly not from any motive of self- 
adulation. 

My personal acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln dates 
back to the autumn of 1847. ^ n tnat year, attracted by 
glowing accounts of material growth and progress in that 
part of the West, I left my home in what was then 
Berkeley County, Virginia, and settled at Danville, Ver- 
million County, Illinois. That county and Sangamon, 
including Springfield, the new capital of the State, were 
embraced in the Eighth Judicial Circuit, which at that 
early day consisted of fourteen counties. It was then 
the custom of lawyers, like their brethren of England, 
" to ride the circuit." By that circumstance the people 
came in contact with all the lawyers in the circuit, and 
were enabled to note their distinguishing traits. I soon 
learned that the man most celebrated, even in those 
pioneer days, for oddity, originality, wit, ability, and elo- 
quence in that region of the State was Abraham Lincoln. 
My great curiosity to see him was gratified soon after I 
took up my residence at Danville. 

I was introduced to Mr. Lincoln by the Hon. John T. 
Stuart, for some years his partner at Springfield. After 
a comical survey of my fashionable toggery, my swal- 
low-tail coat, white neck-cloth, and ruffled shirt (an 
astonishing outfit for a young limb of the law in that set- 
tlement) , Mr. Lincoln said : " And so you are a cousin 
of our friend John J. Brown ; he told me you were com- 
ing. Going to try your hand at the law, are you? I 
should know at a glance that you were a Virginian ; but 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 15 

I don't think you would succeed at splitting rails. That 
was my occupation at your age, and I don't think I have 
taken as much pleasure in anything else from that day to 
this." 

I assured him, perhaps as a sort of defence against the 
eloquent condemnation implied in my fashionable claw- 
hammer, that I had done a deal of hard manual labor in 
my time. Much amused at this solemn declaration, Mr. 
Lincoln said : " Oh, yes ; you Virginians shed barrels of 
perspiration while standing off at a distance and superin- 
tending the work your slaves do for you. It is different 
with us. Here it is every fellow for himself, or he does n't 
get there." 

Mr. Lincoln soon learned, however, that my detesta- 
tion of slave labor was quite as pronounced as his own, 
and from that hour we were friends. Until the day of 
his death it was my pleasure and good fortune to retain 
his confidence unshaken, as he retained my affection 
unbroken. 

I was his local partner, first at Danville, and afterward 
at Bloomington. We rode the circuit together, traveling 
by buggy in the dry seasons and on horse-back in bad 
weather, there being no railroads then in that part of the 
State. Mr. Lincoln had defeated that redoubtable cham- 
pion of pioneer Methodism, the Rev. Peter Cartwright, 
in the last race for Congress. Cartwright was an oddity 
in his way, quite as original as Lincoln himself. He was 
a foeman worthy of Spartan steel, and Mr. Lincoln's 
fame was greatly enhanced by his victory over the famous 



1 6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

preacher. Whenever it was known that Lincoln was to 
make a speech or argue a case, there was a general rush 
and a crowded house. It mattered little what subject 
he was discussing, Lincoln was subject enough for the 
people. It was Lincoln they wanted to hear and see ; 
and his progress round the circuit was marked by a 
constantly recurring series of ovations. 

Mr. Lincoln was from the beginning of his circuit- 
riding the light and life of the court. The most trivial 
circumstance furnished a back-ground for his wit. The 
following incident, which illustrates his love of a joke, 
occurred in the early days of our acquaintance. I, being 
at the time on the infant side of twenty-one, took par- 
ticular pleasure in athletic sports. One day when we 
were attending the circuit court which met at Blooming- 
ton, 111., I was wrestling near the court house with some 
one who had challenged me to a trial, and in the scuffle 
made a large rent in the rear of my trousers. Before I 
had time to make any change, I was called into court to 
take up a case. The evidence was finished. I, being 
the Prosecuting Attorney at the time, got up to address 
the jury. Having on a somewhat short coat, my misfor- 
tune was rather apparent. One of the lawyers, for a 
joke, started a subscription paper which was passed from 
one member of the bar to another as they sat by a long 
table fronting the bench, to buy a pair of pantaloons for 
Lamon, " he being," the paper said, " a poor but 
worthy young man." Several put down their names 
with some ludicrous subscription, and finally the paper 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. \J 

was laid by some one in front of Mr. Lincoln, he 
being engaged in writing at the time. He quietly 
glanced over the paper, and, immediately taking up his 
pen, wrote after his name, "I can contribute nothing 
to the end in view." 

Although Mr. Lincoln was my senior by eighteen 
years, in one important particular I certainly was in a 
marvelous degree his acknowledged superior. One of 
the first things I learned after getting fairly under way as 
a lawyer was to charge well for legal services, a branch 
of the practice that Mr. Lincoln never could learn. In 
fact, the lawyers of the circuit often complained that his 
fees were not at all commensurate with the service ren- 
dered. He at length left that branch of the business 
wholly to me ; and to my tender mercy clients were 
turned over, to be slaughtered according to my pop- 
ular and more advanced ideas of the dignity of our 
profession. This soon led to serious and shocking 
embarrassment. 

Early in our practice a gentleman named Scott placed 
in my hands a case of some importance. He had a 
demented sister who possessed property to the amount 
of $10,000, mostly in cash. A "conservator," as he 
was called, had been appointed to take charge of the 
estate, and we were employed to. resist a motion to 
remove the conservator. A designing adventurer had 
become acquainted with the unfortunate girl, and know- 
ing that she had money, sought to marry her ; hence the 
motion. Scott, the brother and conservator, before we 

2 



1 8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

entered upon the case, insisted that I should fix the 
amount of the fee. I told him that it would be $250, 
adding, however, that he had better wait ; it might not 
give us much trouble, and in that event a less amount 
would do. He agreed at once to pay $250, as he ex- 
pected a hard contest over the motion. 

The case was tried inside of twenty minutes; our 
success was complete. Scott was satisfied, and cheer- 
fully paid over the money to me inside the bar, Mr. 
Lincoln looking on. Scott then went out, and Mr. Lin- 
coln asked, "What did you charge that man?" I told 
him $250. Said he : " Lamon, that is all wrong. The 
service was not worth that sum. Give him back at least 
half of it." 

I protested that the fee was fixed in advance ; that 
Scott was perfectly satisfied, and had so expressed him- 
self. " That may be," retorted Mr. Lincoln, with a look 
of distress and of undisguised displeasure, " but / am 
not satisfied. This is positively wrong. Go, call him 
back and return half the money at least, or I will not 
receive one cent of it for my share." 

I did go, and Scott was astonished when I handed 
back half the fee. 

This conversation had attracted the attention of the 
lawyers and the court. Judge David Davis, then on our 
circuit bench, called Mr. Lincoln to him. The judge 
never could whisper, but in this instance he probably 
did his best. At all events, in attempting to whisper 
to Mr. Lincoln he trumpeted his rebuke in about these 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. iq 

words, and in rasping tones that could be heard all 
over the court room : " Lincoln, I have been watching 
you and Lamon. You are impoverishing this bar by 
your picayune charges of fees, and the lawyers have 
reason to complain of you. You are now almost as 
poor as Lazarus, and if you don't make people pay 
you more for your services you will die as poor as Job's 
turkey ! " 

Judge O. L. Davis, the leading lawyer in that part of 
the State, promptly applauded this malediction from 
the bench; but Mr. Lincoln was immovable. "That 
money," said he, " comes out of the pocket of a poor, 
demented girl, and I would rather starve than swindle 
her in this manner." 

That evening the lawyers got together and tried Mr. 
Lincoln before a moot tribunal called " The Ogmathorial 
Court." He was found guilty and fined for his awful 
crime against the pockets of his brethren of the bar. 
The fine he paid with great good humor, and then kept 
the crowd of lawyers in uproarious laughter until after 
midnight. He persisted in his revolt, however, declar- 
ing that with his consent his firm should never during its 
life, or after its dissolution, deserve the reputation en- 
joyed by those shining lights of the profession, " Catch 
'em and Cheat "em." 

In these early days Mr. Lincoln was once employed in 
a case against a railroad company in Illinois. The case 
was concluded in his favor, except as to the pronounce- 
ment of judgment. Before this was done, he rose and 



2O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

stated that his opponents had not proved all that was 
justly due to them in offset, and proceeded to state 
briefly that justice required that an allowance should be 
made against his client for a certain amount. The 
court at once acquiesced in his statement, and immedi- 
ately proceeded to pronounce judgment in accordance 
therewith. He was ever ready to sink his selfish love of 
victory as well as his partiality for his client's favor and 
interest for the sake of exact justice. 

In many of the courts on the circuit Mr. Lincoln would 
be engaged on one side or the other of every case on 
the docket, and yet, owing to his low charges and the 
large amount of professional work which he did for noth- 
ing, at the time he left Springfield for Washington to take 
the oath of office as President of the United States he 
was not worth more than seven thousand dollars, his 
property consisting of the house in which he had lived, 
and eighty acres of land on the opposite side of the river 
from Omaha, Neb. This land he had entered with his 
bounty land-warrant obtained for services in the Black 
Hawk War. 1 

Mr. Lincoln was always simple in his habits and tastes. 
He was economical in everything, and his wants were 
few. He was a good liver ; and his family, though not 
extravagant, were much given to entertainments, and 
saw and enjoyed many ways of spending money not 
observable by him. After all his inexpensive habits, and 
a long life of successful law practice, he was reduced to 
the necessity of borrowing money to defray expenses for 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 21 

the first months of his residence at the White House. 
This money he repaid after receiving his salary as Presi- 
dent for the first quarter. 

A few months after meeting Mr. Lincoln, I attended 
an entertainment given at his residence in Springfield. 
After introducing me to Mrs. Lincoln, he left us in con- 
versation. I remarked to her that her husband was a 
great favorite in the eastern part of the State, where I 
had been stopping. " Yes," she replied, " he is a great 
favorite everywhere. He is to be President of the 
United States some day ; if I had not thought so I never 
would have married him, for you can see he is not pretty. 
But look at him ! Does n't he look as if he would make a 
magnificent President? " 

"Magnificent" somewhat staggered me; but there 
was, without appearing ungallant, but one reply to make 
to this pointed question. I made it, but did so under a 
mental protest, for I am free to admit that he did not 
look promising for that office ; on the contrary, to me he 
looked about as unpromising a candidate as I could well 
imagine the American people were ever likely to put 
forward. At that time I felt convinced that Mrs. Lin- 
coln was running Abraham beyond his proper distance in 
that race. I did not thoroughly know the man then ; 
afterward I never saw the time when I was not willing to 
apologize for my misguided secret protest. Mrs. Lin- 
coln, from that day to the day of his inauguration, never 
wavered in her faith that her hopes in this respect would 
be realized. 



22 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

In 1858, when Mr. Lincoln and Judge Douglas were 
candidates for the United States Senate, and were mak- 
ing their celebrated campaign in Illinois, General McClel- 
lan was Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railroad, 
and favored the election of Judge Douglas. At all 
points on the road where meetings between the two 
great politicians were held, either a special train or a 
special car was furnished to Judge Douglas; but Mr. 
Lincoln, when he failed to get transportation on the 
regular trains in time to meet his appointments, was re- 
duced to the necessity of going as freight. There being 
orders from headquarters to permit no passenger to 
travel on freight trains, Mr. Lincoln's persuasive powers 
were often brought into requisition. The favor was 
granted or refused according to the politics of the 
conductor. 

On one occasion, in going to meet an appointment in 
the southern part of the State, that section of Illinois 
called Egypt, Mr. Lincoln and I, with other friends, 
were traveling in the " caboose " of a freight train, when 
we were switched off the main track to allow a special 
train to pass in which Mr. Lincoln's more aristocratic 
rival was being conveyed. The passing train was deco- 
rated with banners and flags, and carried a band of 
music which was playing " Hail to the Chief." As the 
train whistled past, Mr. Lincoln broke out in a fit of 
laughter and said, "Boys, the gentleman in that car 
evidently smelt no royalty in our carriage." 

On arriving at the point where these two political 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 2$ 

gladiators were to test their strength, there was the same 
contrast between their respective receptions. The judgy 
was met at the station by the distinguished Democratic 
citizens of the place, who constituted almost the whole 
population, and was marched to the camping ground to 
the sound of music, shouts from the populace, and under 
floating banners borne by his enthusiastic admirers. Mr. 
Lincoln was escorted by a few Republican politicians ; 
no enthusiasm was displayed, no music greeted his ears, 
nor, in fact, any other sound except the warble of the 
bull-frogs in a neighboring swamp. The signs and pros- 
pects for Mr. Lincoln's election by the support of the 
people looked gloomy indeed. 

Judge Douglas spoke first, and so great was the enthu- 
siasm excited by his speech that Mr. Lincoln's friends 
became apprehensive of trouble. When spoken to on 
the subject he said : " I am not going to be terrified by 
an excited populace, and hindered from speaking my 
honest sentiments upon this infernal subject of human 
slavery." He rose, took off his hat, and stood before 
that audience for a considerable space of time in a seem- 
ingly reflective mood, looking over the vast throng of 
people as if making a preliminary survey of their tenden- 
cies. He then bowed, and commenced by saying : " My 
fellow-citizens, I learn that my friend Judge Douglas said 
in a public speech that I, while in Congress, had voted 
against the appropriation for supplies to the Mexican 
soldiers during the late war. This, fellow-citizens, is a 
perversion of the facts. It is true that I was opposed to 



24 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

the policy of the Administration in declaring war against 
Mexico 8 ; but when war was declared, I never failed to 
vote for the support of any proposition looking to the 
comfort of our poor fellows who were maintaining the 
dignity of our flag in a war that I thought unnecessary 
and unjust."* He gradually became more and more 
excited ; his voice thrilled and his whole frame shook. 
I was at the time sitting on the stand beside Hon. O. B. 
Ficklin, who had served in Congress with Mr. Lincoln in 
1847. Mr. Lincoln reached back and took Ficklin by 
the coat-collar, back of his neck, and in no gentle man- 
ner lifted him from his seat as if he had been a kitten, 
and said : " Fellow-citizens, here is Ficklin, who was at 
that time in Congress with me, and he knows it is a lie." 
He shook Ficklin until his teeth chattered. Fearing 
that he would shake Ficklin's head off, I grasped Mr. 
Lincoln's hand and broke his grip. Mr. Ficklin sat 
down, and Lincoln continued his address. 

After the speaking was over, Mr. Ficklin, who had 
been opposed to Lincoln in politics, but was on terms of 

* For some time before this speech Mr. Lincoln had been 
receiving letters from friends inquiring as to the truth or falsity of 
Mr. Douglas's charge. Knowing that he had opposed the war 
with Mexico, while in Congress, they were in doubt whether or 
not the charge was true, and believed that if true it would be dan- 
gerous to his prospects. To one of these anxious friends he 
writes under date of June 24, 1858 : " Give yourself no concern 
about my voting against the supplies, unless you are without faith 
that a lie can be successfully contradicted. There is not a word 
of truth in the charge, and I am just considering a little as to the 
best shape to put a contradiction in. Show this to whom you 
please, but do not publish it in the papers." 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 25 

warm personal friendship with him, turned to him and 
said : " Lincoln, you nearly shook all the Democracy 
out of me to-day." 

Mr. Lincoln replied : " That reminds me of what 
Paul said to Agrippa, which in language and substance I 
will formulate as follows : I would to God that such 
Democracy as you folks here in Egypt have were not only 
almost, but altogether shaken out of, not only you, but 
all that heard me this day, and that you would all join in 
assisting in shaking off the shackles of the bondmen by 
all legitimate means, so that this country may be made 
free as the good Lord intended it." 

Ficklin continued : " Lincoln, I remember of reading 
somewhere in the same book from which you get your 
Agrippa story, that Paul, whom you seem to desire to 
personate, admonished all servants (slaves) to be obedi- 
ent to them that are their masters according to the flesh, 
in fear and trembling. It would seem that neither our 
Saviour nor Paul saw the iniquity of slavery as you and 
your party do. But you must not think that where you 
fail by argument to convince an old friend like myself 
and win him over to your heterodox abolition opinions, 
you are justified in resorting to violence such as you 
practiced on me to-day. Why, I never had such a shak- 
ing up in the whole course of my life. Recollect that 
that good old book that you quote from somewhere says 
in effect this, ' Woe be unto him who goeth to Egypt for 
help, for he shall fall. The holpen shall fall, and they 
shall all fall together.' The next thing we know, Lin- 



26 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

coin, you and your party will be advocating a war to kill 
all of us pro-slavery people off." 

" No, " said Lincoln, " I will never advocate such an 
extremity ; but it will be well for you folks if you don't 
force such a necessity on the country." 

Lincoln then apologized for his rudeness in jostling 
the muscular Democracy of his friend, and they sepa- 
rated, each going his own way, little thinking then that 
what they had just said in badinage would be so soon 
realized in such terrible consequences to the country. 

The following letter shows Lincoln's view of the politi- 
cal situation at that time : 

SPRINGFIELD, June n, 1858. 
W. H. LAMON, Esq. : 

My DEAR SIR, Yours of the pth written at Joliet is just 
received Two or three days ago I learned that McLean 
had appointed delegates in favor of Lovejoy, and thencefor- 
ward I have considered his renomination a fixed fact. My 
opinion if my opinion is of any consequence in this case, 
in which it is no business of mine to interfere remains un- 
changed, that running an independent candidate against 
Lovejoy will not do ; that it will result in nothing but disas- 
ter all round. In the first place, whoever so runs will be 
beaten and will be spotted for life ; in the second place, 
while the race is in progress, he will be under the strongest 
temptation to trade with the Democrats, and to favor the 
election of certain of their friends to the Legislature; thirdly, 
I shall be held responsible for it, and Republican members 
of the Legislature, who are partial to Lovejoy, will for that 
purpose oppose us ; and, lastly, it will in the end lose us the 
District altogether. There is no safe way but a convention ; 
and if in that convention, upon a common platform which all 
are willing to stand upon, one who has been known as an 



if. / QZa/tr^r^ 




EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 2/ 

Abolitionist, but who is now occupying none but common 
ground, can get the majority of the votes to which all look 
for an election, there is no safe way but to submit. 

As to the inclination of some Republicans to favor Doug- 
las, that is one of the chances I have to run, and which I 
intend to run with patience. 

I write in the court room. Court has opened, and I must 
close. 

Yours as ever, 
(Signed) A. LINCOLN. 

During this senatorial campaign in 1858, Hon. James 
G. Elaine predicted in a letter, which was extensively 
published, that Douglas would beat Lincoln for the United 
States Senate, but that Lincoln would beat Douglas for 
President in 1860. Mr. Lincoln cut out the paragraph 
of the letter containing this prediction, and placed it in 
his pocket-book, where I have no doubt it was found 
after his death, for only a very short time before that 
event I saw it in his possession. 8 

After Mr. Lincoln's election he was sorely beset by 
rival claimants for the spoils of office in his own State, 
and distracted by jealousies among his own party adhe- 
rents. The State was divided so far as the Republican 
party was concerned into three cliques or factions. The 
Chicago faction was headed by Norman B. Judd and 
Ebenezer Peck, the Bloomington faction by Judge David 
Davis, Leonard Swett, and others, and that of Springfield 
by J. K. Dubois, O. M. Hatch, William Butler, and 
others ; and however anxious Mr. Lincoln might be to 
honor his State by a Cabinet appointment, he was power- 



28 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

less to do so without incurring the hostility of the 
factions from which he could not make a selection. 
Harmony was, however, in a large measure preserved 
among the Republican politicians by sending Judd as 
Minister to Prussia, and by anticipating a place on the 
Supreme Bench for Judge Davis. Swett wanted nothing, 
and middle Illinois was satisfied. Springfield controlled 
the lion's share of State patronage, and satisfaction was 
given all round as far as circumstances would allow. 

Between the time of Mr. Lincoln's election and the 
nth of February, 1861, he spent his time in a room in 
the State House which was assigned to him as an office. 
Young Mr. Nicolay, a very clever and competent clerk, 
was lent to him by the Secretary of State to do his writ- 
ing. During this time he was overrun with visitors from 
all quarters of the country, some to assist in forming 
his Cabinet, some to direct how patronage should be dis- 
tributed, others to beg for or demand personal advance- 
ment. So painstaking was he, that every one of the 
many thousand letters which poured in upon him was 
read and promptly answered. The burden of the new 
and overwhelming labor came near prostrating him with 
serious illness. 

Some days before his departure for Washington, he 
wrote to me at Bloomington that he desired to see me at 
once. I went to Springfield, and Mr. Lincoln said to 
me : " Hill, on the 1 1 th I go to Washington, and I want 
you to go along with me. Our friends have already 
asked me to send you as Consul to Paris. You know I 



EARLY ACQUAINTANCE. 2<) 

would cheerfully give you anything for which our friends 
may ask or which you may desire, but it looks as if we 
might have war. In that case I want you with me. In 
fact, I must have you. So get yourself ready and come 
along. It will be handy to have you around. If there 
is to be a fight, I want you to help me to do my share 
of it, as you have done in times past. You must go, and 
go to stay." 



CHAPTER II. 

JOURNEY FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 

ON the nth of February, 1861, the arrangements 
for Mr. Lincoln's departure from Springfield were 
completed. It was intended to occupy the time remain- 
ing between that date and the 4th of March with a grand 
tour from State to State and city to city. Mr. Wood, 
" recommended by Senator Seward," was the chief 
manager. He provided special trains, to be preceded 
by pilot engines all the way through. 

It was a gloomy day : heavy clouds floated overhead, 
and a cold rain was falling. Long before eight o'clock, 
a great mass of people had collected at the station of the 
Great Western Railway to witness the event of the day. 
At precisely five minutes before eight, Mr. Lincoln, pre- 
qeded by Mr. Wood, emerged from a private room in the 
station, and passed slowly to the car, the people falling 
back respectfully on either side, and as many as possible 
shaking his hand. Having reached the train he ascended 
the rear platform, and, facing the throng which had 
closed around him, drew himself up to his full height, 
removed his hat, and stood for several seconds in pro- 
found silence. His eye roved sadly over that sea of up- 
turned faces ; and he thought he read in them again the 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON, 31 

sympathy and friendship which he had often tried, and 
which he never needed more than he did then. There 
was an unusual quiver on his lip, and a still more 
unusual tear on his furrowed cheek. His solemn man- 
ner, his long silence, were as full of melancholy eloquence 
as any words he could have uttered. Of what was he 
thinking? Of the mighty changes which had lifted him 
from the lowest to the highest estate in the nation ; of the 
weary road which had brought him to this lofty summit ; 
of his poverty-stricken boyhood ; of his poor mother 
lying beneath the tangled underbrush in a distant for- 
est? Whatever the particular character of his thoughts, 
it is evident that they were retrospective and painful. 
To those who were anxiously waiting to catch words 
upon which the fate of the nation might hang, it seemed 
long until he had mastered his feelings sufficiently to 
speak. At length he began in a husky tone of voice, 
and slowly and impressively delivered his farewell to 
his neighbors. Imitating his example, every man in 
the crowd stood with his head uncovered in the fast- 
falling rain. 

"Friends, no one who has never been placed in a like 
position can understand my feelings at this hour, nor the 
oppressive sadness I feel at this parting. For more than a 
quarter of a century I have lived among you, and during all 
that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands. 
Here I have lived from my youth, until now I am an old man. 
Here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed ; here all my 
children were born ; and here one of them lies buried. To 
you, dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am. ' All 



32 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

the strange, checkered past seems to crowd now upon my 
mind.' 1 To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more 
difficult than that which devolved upon Washington. Unless 
the great God, who assisted him, shall be with me and aid 
me, I must fail ; but if the same omniscient mind and almighty 
arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support 
me, I shall not fail, I shall succeed. Let us all pray that 
the God of our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him 
I commend you all. Permit me to ask that, with equal 
security and faith, you will invoke His wisdom and guidance 
for me. With these few words I must leave you, for how 
long I know not. Friends, one and all, I must now bid you 
an affectionate farewell." 

Few more impressive utterances were ever made by 
any one than found expression in this simple speech. 
This farewell meant more to him than to his hearers. 
To them it meant, "Good-by for the present," a 
commendation of his dearest friends to the watchful care 
of God until his return. To him it foreboded eternity 
ere their reunion, his last solemn benediction until 
the resurrection. He never believed he would return 
to the hallowed scenes of his adopted State, to his 
friends and his home. He had felt for many years that 
he would suffer a violent death, and at different times 
expressed his apprehensions before and after his election 
as President. 

The first night after our departure from Springfield 
was spent in Indianapolis. Governor Yates, the Hon. 
O. H. Browning, Jesse K. Dubois, O. M. Hatch, Josiah 
Allen, of Indiana, and others, after taking leave of Mr. 
Lincoln to return to their respective homes, took me 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 33 

into a room, locked the door, and proceeded in the most 
solemn and impressive manner to instruct me as to my 
duties as the special guardian of Mr. Lincoln's person 
during the rest of his journey to Washington. The 
lesson was concluded by Uncle Jesse, as Mr. Dubois was 
commonly called, who said : " Now, Lamon, we have 
regarded you as the Tom Hyer of Illinois, with Morrissey 
attachment. We intrust the sacred life of Mr. Lincoln to 
your keeping ; and if you don't protect it, never return 
to Illinois, for we will murder you on sight." 

With this amiable threat, delivered in a jocular tone, 
but with a feeling of deep, ill-disguised alarm for the 
safety of the President-elect, in which they all shared, 
the door was unlocked and they took their leave. If I 
had been remiss in my duty toward Mr. Lincoln during 
that memorable journey, I have no doubt those sturdy 
men would have made good some part of their threat. 

The journey from Springfield to Philadelphia was not 
characterized by any scene unusual or more eventful 
than what was ordinary on such occasions, notwithstand- 
ing that so much has been written about thrilling dangers, 
all of which were imagined but not encountered. Mr. 
Lincoln's speeches were the all-absorbing events of the 
hour. The people everywhere were eager to hear a 
forecast of his policy, and he was as determined to keep 
silence on that subject until it was made manifest in 
his Inaugural Address. After having been en route 
a day or two, he told me that he had done much hard 
work in his life, but to make speeches day after day, 

3 



34 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

with the object of speaking and saying nothing, was the 
hardest work he ever had done. " I wish," said he, 
"that this thing were through with, and I could find 
peace and quiet somewhere." 

On arriving at Albany, N. Y., Mr. Thurlow Weed asked 
me where Mr. Lincoln was going to be domiciled in 
Washington until he was inaugurated. I told him 
Messrs. Trumbull and Washburne had provided quarters 
for him ; that they had rented a house on Thirteenth or 
Fourteenth Street, N. W., for his reception, and that 
Mr. Lincoln had submitted the matter to me, asking me 
to confer with Capt. John Pope, one of our party who 
was an old friend of his, and to make just such arrange- 
ments as I thought best for his quarters in Washington. 
Mr. Weed said, "It will never do to allow him to go 
to a private house to be under the influence of State 
control. He is now public property, and ought to be 
where he can be reached by the people until he is 
inaugurated." We then agreed that Willard's Hotel 
would be the best place, and the following letter was 
written to Mr. Willard to arrange for the reception of 
the Presidential party : 

ALBANY, Feb. 19, 1861. 

DEAR WILLARD, Mr. Lincoln will be your guest. 
In arranging his apartments, please reserve nearest him 
apartments for two of his friends, Judge Davis and Mr. 

Lamon. 

Truly yours, 

(Signed) THURLOW WEED. 

Mrs. Lincoln and one son accompany him. 



LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSIIY Crt ILLINOIS 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON'. 35 

This arrangement was reported to Mr. Lincoln, who 
said : " I fear it will give mortal offense to our friends, 
but I think the arrangement a good one. I can readily 
see that many other well meant plans will ' gang aglee,' 
but I am sorry. The truth is, I suppose I am now public 
property; and a public inn is the place where people 
can have access to me." 

Mr. Lincoln had prepared his Inaugural Address with 
great care, and up to the time of his arrival in Washington 
he had not shown it to any one. No one had been con- 
sulted as to what he should say on that occasion. During 
the journey the Address was made an object of special 
care, and was guarded with more than ordinary vigilance. 
It was carefully stored away in a satchel, which for the 
most of the time received his personal supervision. At 
Harrisburg, however, the precious bag was lost sight of. 
This was a matter which for prudential reasons could 
not be much talked about, and concerning which no 
great amount of anxiety could be shown. Mr. Lincoln 
had about concluded that his Address was lost. It at 
length dawned upon him that on arriving at Harris- 
burg he had intrusted the satchel to his son Bob, then 
a boy in his teens. He at once hunted up the boy and 
asked him what he had done with the bag. Robert 
confessed that in the excitement of the reception he 
thought that he had given it to a waiter of the hotel 
or to some one, he could n't tell whom. Lincoln was in 
despair. Only ten days remained until the inauguration, 
and no Address ; not even a trace of the notes was 
preserved from which it had been prepared. 



36 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

I had never seen Mr. Lincoln so much annoyed, so 
much perplexed, and for the time so angry. He seldom 
manifested a spirit of anger toward his children, this 
was the nearest approach to it I had ever witnessed. 
He and I started in search of the satchel. We went 
first to the hotel office, where we were informed that if 
an employe of the hotel had taken charge of it, it would 
be found in the baggage-room. On going there, we 
found a great pile of all kinds of baggage in promiscuous 
confusion. Mr. Lincoln's keen eye soon discovered a 
satchel which he thought his own ; taking it in his hand 
eagerly he tried his key ; it fitted the lock, the bag 
opened, and to our astonishment it contained nothing 
but a soiled shirt, several paper collars, a pack of cards, 
and a bottle of whiskey nearly full. In spite of his 
perplexity, the ludicrous mistake overcame Mr. Lincoln's 
gravity, and we both laughed heartily, much to the 
amusement of the bystanders. Shortly afterward we 
found among the mass the bag containing the precious 
document. 

I shall never forget Mr. Lincoln's expression and what 
he said when he first informed me of his supposed loss, 
and enlisted my services in search of it. He held his 
head down for a moment, and then whispered : " Lamon, 
I guess I have lost my certificate of moral character, 
written by myself. Bob has lost my gripsack containing 
my Inaugural Address. I want you to help me to find 
it. I feel a good deal as the old member of the Meth- 
odist Church did when he lost his wife at the camp- 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 37 

meeting, and went up to an old elder of the church and 
asked him if he could tell him whereabouts in hell his 
wife was. In fact, I am in a worse fix than my Meth- 
odist friend ; for if it were nothing but a wife that was 
missing, mine would be sure to pop up serenely some- 
where. That Address may be a loss to more than one 
husband in this country, but I shall be the greatest 
sufferer." 

On our dark journey from Harrisburg to Philadelphia 
the lamps of the car were not lighted, because of the 
secret journey we were making. The loss of the Address 
and the search for it was the subject of a great deal 
of amusement. Mr. Lincoln said many funny things in 
connection with the incident. One of them was that he 
knew a fellow once who had saved up fifteen hundred 
dollars, and had placed it in a private banking establish- 
ment. The bank soon failed, and he afterward received 
ten per cent of his investment. He then took his one 
hundred and fifty dollars and deposited it in a savings 
bank, where he was sure it would be safe. In a short 
time this bank also failed, and he received at the final 
settlement ten per cent on the amount deposited. 
When the fifteen dollars was paid over to him, he held 
it in his hand and looked at it thoughtfully; then he 
said, " Now, darn yon, I have got you reduced to a 
portable shape, so I'll put you in my pocket." Suiting 
the action to the word, Mr. Lincoln took his Address 
from the bag and carefully placed it in the inside pocket 
of his vest, but held on to the satchel with as much 



38 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

interest as if it still contained his " certificate of moral 
character." 

While Mr. Lincoln, in the midst of his suite of attend- 
ants, was being borne in triumph through the streets of 
Philadelphia, and a countless multitude of people were 
shouting themselves hoarse, and jostling and crushing 
each other round his carriage, Mr. Felton, the president 
of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Baltimore Railway, 
was engaged with a private detective discussing the 
details of an alleged conspiracy to murder him at Balti- 
more. At various places along the route Mr. Judd, who 
was supposed to exercise unbounded influence over the 
new President, had received vague hints of the impending 
danger. 

Mr. Lincoln reached Philadelphia on the afternoon of 
the. 2 1 st. The detective had arrived in the morning, 
and improved the interval to impress and enlist Mr. 
Felton. In the evening he got Mr. Judd and Mr. Felton 
into his room at the St. Louis Hotel, and told them all 
he had learned. Mr. Judd was very much startled, and 
was sure that it would be extremely imprudent for Mr. 
Lincoln to pass through Baltimore in open daylight, 
according to the published programme. But he thought 
the detective ought to see the President himself; and, as 
it was wearing toward nine o'clock, there was no time to 
lose. It was agreed that the part taken by the detective 
and Mr. Felton should be kept secret from every one 
but the President. Mr. Sanford, president of the Ameri- 
can Telegraph Company, had also been co-operating in 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 39 

the business, and the same stipulation was made with 
regard to him. 

Mr. Judd went to his own room at the Continental, 
and the detective followed. The crowd in the hotel was 
very dense, and it took some time to get a message 
to Mr. Lincoln. But it finally reached him, and he 
responded in person. Mr. Judd introduced the detec- 
tive ; and the latter told his story again. Mr. Judd and 
the detective wanted Mr. Lincoln to leave for Washing- 
ton that night. This he flatly refused to do. He had 
engagements with the people, he said, to raise a flag 
over Independence Hall in the morning, and to exhibit 
himself at Harrisburg in the afternoon, and these 
engagements he would not break in any event. But he 
would raise the flag, go to Harrisburg, get away quietly 
in the evening, and permit himself to be carried to Wash- 
ington in the way they thought best. Even this, however, 
he conceded with great reluctance. He condescended 
to cross-examine the detective on some parts of his nar- 
rative ; but at no time did he seem in the least degree 
alarmed. He was earnestly requested not to commu- 
nicate the change of plan to any member of his party 
except Mr. Judd, nor permit even a suspicion of it to 
cross the mind of another. 

In the mean time, Mr. Seward had also discovered 
the conspiracy, and despatched his son to Philadelphia 
to warn the President-elect of the terrible snare into 
whose meshes he was about to run. Mr. Lincoln turned 
him over to Judd, and Judd told him they already knew 



40 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

about it. He went away with just enough information 
to enable his father to anticipate the exact moment of 
Mr. Lincoln's surreptitious arrival in Washington. 

Early on the morning of the 22d, Mr. Lincoln raised 
the flag over Independence Hall, and departed for Har- 
risburg. On the way, Mr. Judd gave him a full and 
precise detail of the arrangements that had been made 
the previous night. After the conference with the de- 
tective, Mr. Sanford, Colonel Scott, Mr. Felton, and the 
railroad and telegraph officials had been sent for, and 
came to Mr. Judd's room. They occupied nearly the 
whole of the night in perfecting the plan. It was finally 
agreed that about six o'clock the next evening Mr. Lin- 
coln should slip away from the Jones Hotel at Harris- 
burg, in company with a single member of his party. 
A special car and engine was to be provided for him on 
the track outside the depot ; all other trains on the road 
were to be "side-tracked" until this one had passed. 
Mr. Sanford was to forward skilled "telegraph-climbers," 
and see that all the wires leading out of Harrisburg were 
cut at six o'clock, and kept down until it was known that 
Mr. Lincoln had reached Washington in safety. The 
detective was to meet Mr. Lincoln at the West Philadel- 
phia Station with a carriage, and conduct him by a 
circuitous route to the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and 
Baltimore Station. Berths for four were to be pre-en- 
gaged in the sleeping-car attached to the regular midnight 
train for Baltimore. This train Mr. Felton was to cause 
to be detained until the conductor should receive a pack- 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 41 

age, containing important "government despatches," 
addressed to " E. J. Allen, Willard's Hotel, Washington." 
This package was to be made up of old newspapers, 
carefully wrapped and sealed, and delivered to the de- 
tective to be used as soon as Mr. Lincoln was lodged 
in the car. 

Mr. Lincoln acquiesced in this plan. Then Mr. Judd, 
forgetting the secrecy which the spy had so impressively 
enjoined, told Mr. Lincoln that the step he was about to 
take was one of such transcendent importance that he 
thought " it should be communicated to the other gen- 
tlemen of the party." Therefore, when they had arrived 
at Harrisburg, and the public ceremonies and speech- 
making were over, Mr. Lincoln retired to a private par- 
lor in the Jones House ; and Mr. Judd summoned to 
meet him there Judge Davis, Colonel Sumner, Major 
Hunter, Captain Pope, and myself. Judd began the 
conference by stating the alleged fact of the Baltimore 
conspiracy, how it was detected, and how it was pro- 
posed to thwart it by a midnight expedition to Washing- 
ton by way of Philadelphia. It was a great surprise to 
all of us. 

Colonel Sumner was the first to break the silence. 
"That proceeding," said he, "will be a damned piece of 
cowardice." 

Mr. Judd considered this a " pointed hit," but replied 
that " that view of the case had already been presented 
to Mr. Lincoln." Then there was a general interchange 
of opinions, which Sumner interrupted by saying, 



42 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

" I '11 get a squad of cavalry, sir, and cut our way to 
Washington, sir ! " 

"Probably before that day comes," said Mr. Judd, 
" the inauguration day will have passed. It is important 
that Mr. Lincoln should be in Washington on that day." 

Thus far Judge Davis had expressed no opinion, but 
had put various questions to test the truthfulness of the 
story. He now turned to Mr. Lincoln, and said, " You 
personally heard the detective's story. You have heard 
this discussion. What is your judgment in the matter? " 

" I have thought over this matter considerably since I 
went over the ground with the detective last night. The 
appearance of Mr. Frederick Seward with warning from 
another source confirms my belief in the detective's 
statement. Unless there are some other reasons be- 
sides fear of ridicule, I am disposed to carry out Judd's 
plan." 

There was no longer any dissent as to the plan itself; 
but one question still remained to be disposed of. Who 
should accompany the President on his perilous ride? 
Mr. Judd again took the lead, declaring that he and Mr. 
Lincoln had previously determined that but one man 
ought to go, and that I had been selected as the proper 
person. To this Sumner violently demurred. " / have 
undertaken," he exclaimed, " to see Mr. Lincoln to 
Washington ! " 

Mr. Lincoln was dining when a close carriage was 
brought to the side door of the hotel. He was called, 
hurried to his room, changed his coat and hat, and 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 43 

passed rapidly through the hall and out of the door. 
As he was stepping into the carriage, it became manifest 
that Sumner was determined to get in also. " Hurry 
with him ! " whispered Judd to me ; and at the same 
time, placing his hand on Sumner's shoulder, he said 
aloud, "One moment, Colonel ! " Sumner turned round, 
and in that moment the carriage drove rapidly away. 
" A madder man," says Mr. Judd, " you never saw." 

We got on board the car without discovery or mishap. 
Besides ourselves, there was no one in or about the car 
except Mr. Lewis, general superintendent of the Penn- 
sylvania Central Railroad, and Mr. Franciscus, superin- 
tendent of the division over which we were about to 
pass. The arrangements for the special train were made 
ostensibly to take these two gentlemen to Philadelphia. 

At ten o'clock we reached West Philadelphia, and 
were met by the detective and one Mr. Kenney, an 
under-official of the Philadelphia, Wilmington, and Bal- 
timore Railroad, from whose hands the "important par- 
cel" was to be delivered to the conductor of the 
10.50 P.M. train. Mr. Lincoln, the detective, and 
myself seated ourselves in a carriage which stood in 
waiting; and Mr. Kenney sat upon the box with the 
driver. It was nearly an hour before the Baltimore 
train was to start ; and Mr. Kenney found it necessary 
to consume the time by driving northward in search of 
some imaginary person. 

As the moment for the departure of the Baltimore 
train drew near, the carriage paused in the dark shadows 



44 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLA?. 

of the depot building. It was not considered prudent 
to approach the entrance. 

We were directed to the sleeping-car. Mr. Kenney 
ran forward and delivered the " important package," and 
in three minutes the train was in motion. The tickets 
for the whole party had been procured by George R. 
Dunn, an express agent, who had selected berths in the 
rear of the car, and had insisted that the rear door of 
the car should be opened on the plea that one of the 
party was an invalid, who would arrive late, and did not 
desire to be carried through the narrow passage-way of 
the crowded car. Mr. Lincoln got into his berth imme- 
diately, the curtains were carefully closed, and the rest 
of the party waited until the conductor came round, 
when the detective handed him the "sick man's" ticket. 
During the night Mr. Lincoln indulged in a joke or two, 
in an undertone ; but with that exception the two 
sections occupied by us were perfectly silent. The 
detective said he had men stationed at various places 
along the road to let him know if all was right ; and 
he rose and went to the platform occasionally to observe 
their signals, returning each time with a favorable report. 

At thirty minutes past three the train reached Balti- 
more. One of the spy's assistants came on board and 
informed him in a whisper that " all was right." Mr. 
Lincoln lay still in his berth ; and in a few moments 
the car was being slowly drawn through the quiet streets 
of the city toward what was called the Washington depot. 
There again was another pause, but no sound more 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 45 

alarming than the noise of shifting cars and engines. 
The passengers, tucked away on their narrow shelves, 
dozed on as peacefully as if Mr. Lincoln had never been 
born, until they were awakened by the loud strokes of a 
huge club against a night-watchman's box, which stood 
within the depot and close to the track. It was an Irish- 
man, trying to arouse a sleepy ticket-agent comfortably 
ensconced within. For twenty minutes the Irishman 
pounded the box with ever-increasing vigor, and at each 
blow shouted at the top of his voice, " Captain ! it 's 
four o'clock ! it's four o'clock ! " The Irishman seemed 
to think that time had ceased to run at four o'clock, and 
making no allowance for the period consumed by his 
futile exercises, repeated to the last his original state- 
ment that it was four o'clock. The passengers were 
intensely amused; and their jokes and laughter at the 
Irishman's expense were not lost upon the occupants of 
the two sections in the rear. 

In due time the train sped out of the suburbs of 
Baltimore, and the apprehensions of the President and 
his friends diminished with each welcome revolution of 
the wheels. At six o'clock the dome of the Capitol 
came in sight, and a moment later we rolled into that 
long, unsightly building, the Washington depot. We 
passed out of the car unobserved, and pushed along 
with the living stream of men and women toward the 
outer door. One man alone in the great crowd seemed 
to watch Mr. Lincoln with special attention. Standing 
a little to one side, he looked very sharply at him, and, 



46 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 1 . 

as he passed, seized hold of his hand, and said in a loud 
tone of voice, "Abe, you can't play that on me ! " We 
were instantly alarmed, and would have struck the stranger 
had not Mr. Lincoln hastily said, " Don't strike him ! 
It is Washburne. Don't you know him? " Mr. Seward 
had given to Mr. Washburne a hint of the information 
received through his son ; and Mr. Washburne knew its 
value as well as another. 

The detective admonished Washburne to keep quiet 
for the present, and we passed on together. Taking a 
hack, we drove toward Willard's Hotel. Mr. Lincoln, 
Mr. Washburne, and the detective got out in the street, 
and approached the ladies' entrance, while I drove on 
to the main entrance, and sent the proprietor to meet 
his distinguished guest at the side door. A few minutes 
later Mr. Seward arrived, and was introduced to the 
company by Mr. Washburne. He spoke in very strong 
terms of the great danger which Mr. Lincoln had so 
narrowly escaped, and most heartily applauded the wis- 
dom of the " secret passage." 

It now soon became apparent that Mr. Lincoln wished 
to be left alone. He said he was " rather tired ; " and, 
upon this intimation, the party separated. The detec- 
tive went to the telegraph-office and loaded the wires 
with despatches in cipher, containing the pleasing in- 
telligence that " Plums " had brought " Nuts " through 
in safety. 

Mr. Lincoln soon learned to regret the midnight ride 
to which he had yielded under protest. He was con- 



FROM SPRINGFIELD TO WASHINGTON. 47 

vinced that he had committed a grave mistake in listen- 
ing to the solicitations of a professional spy and of 
friends too easily alarmed, and frequently upbraided me 
for having aided him to degrade himself at the very 
moment in all his life when his behavior should have 
exhibited the utmost dignity and composure. Neither 
he nor the country generally then understood the true 
facts concerning the dangers to his life. It is now an 
acknowledged fact that there never was a moment from 
the day he crossed the Maryland line, up to the time of 
his assassination, that he was not in danger of death by 
violence, and that his life was spared until the night of 
the 1 4th of April, 1865, only through the ceaseless and 
watchful care of the guards thrown around him. 



CHAPTER III. 

INAUGURATION. 

IF before leaving Springfield Mr. Lincoln had become 
weary of the pressure upon him for office, he found 
no respite on his arrival at the focus of political intrigue 
and corruption. The time intervening between his 
arrival at Washington and his Inauguration was, for the 
most part, employed in giving consideration to his In- 
augural Address, the formation of his Cabinet, and the 
conventional duties required by his elevated position. 

The question of the new Administration's policy 
absorbed nearly every other consideration. To get a 
Cabinet that would work harmoniously in carrying out 
the policy determined on by Mr. Lincoln was very 
difficult. He was pretty well determined on the con- 
struction of his Cabinet before he reached Washington ; 
but in the minds of the public, beyond the generally 
accepted fact that Mr. Seward was to be the Premier 
of the new Administration, all was speculation and con- 
jecture. All grades of opinion were advanced for his con- 
sideration : conciliation was strongly urged ; a vigorous 
war policy ; a policy of quiescent neutrality recommend- 
ing delay of demonstrative action for or against war, 
and all, or nearly all these suggestions were prompted 



IN A UG URA TION. 49 

by the most unselfish and patriotic motives. He was com- 
pelled to give a patient ear to these representations, and 
to hold his decisions till the last moment, in order that 
he might decide with a full view of the requirements of 
public policy and party fealty. 4 

As late as the second of March a large and respectable 
delegation of persons visited Mr. Lincoln to bring matters 
to a conclusion. Their object was to prevent at all 
hazards the appointment of Mr. Chase in the Cabinet. 
They were received civilly and treated courteously. 
The President listened to them with great patience. 
They were unanimous in their opposition to Mr. Chase. 
Mr. Seward's appointment, they urged, was absolutely 
and indispensably required to secure for the Administra- 
tion either the support of the North or a respectful 
hearing at the South. They portrayed the danger of 
putting into the Cabinet a man like Mr. Chase, who was 
BO notoriously identified with and supported by men who 
did not desire the perpetuation of the Union. They 
strongly insisted that Mr. Chase would be an unsafe coun- 
sellor, and that he and his supporters favored a Northern 
republic, extending from the Ohio River to Canada, 
rather than the Union which our fathers had founded. 
They urged another argument, which to them seemed 
of vital importance and conclusive, that it would not 
be possible for Mr. Seward to sit in the Cabinet with 
Mr. Chase as a member. To think of it was revolting 
to him, and neither he nor his State could or would 
tolerate it. 

4 



5<D RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

These arguments, so earnestly put forth, distressed 
Mr. Lincoln greatly. At length, after a long pause, he 
replied that it was very difficult to reconcile conflicting 
claims and interests ; that his greatest desire was to form 
an Administration that would command the confidence 
and respect of the country, and of the party which had 
placed him in power. He spoke of his high regard for 
Mr. Seward, of his eminent services, his great genius, 
and the respect in which he was held by the country. 
He said Mr. Chase had also great claims that no one 
could gainsay. His claims were, perhaps, not so great 
as Mr. Seward's ; but this he would not then discuss : 
the party and the country wanted the hearty and har- 
monious co-operation of all good men without regard to 
sections. 

Then there was an ominous pause. Mr. Lincoln went 
to a drawer and took out a paper, saying, " I had written 
out my choice and selection of members for the Cabinet 
after most careful and deliberate consideration ; and now 
you are here to tell me I must break the slate and begin 
the thing all over again." He admitted that he had 
sometimes apprehended that it might be as they had 
suggested, that he might be forced to reconsider what 
he regarded as his judicious conclusions ; and in view of 
this possibility he had constructed an alternative list of 
members. He did not like the alternative list so well 
as the original. He had hoped to have Mr. Seward as 
Secretary of State and Mr. Chase his Secretary of Trea- 
sury. He expressed his regrets that he could not be 



IN A UG URA TION. 5 1 

gratified in this desire, and added that he could not 
reasonably expect to have things just as he wanted them- 
Silence prevailed for some time, and he then added : 
"This being the case, gentlemen, how would it do for 
us to agree upon a change like this? To appoint Mr. 
Chase Secretary of the Treasury, and offer the State 
Department to Mr. William L. Dayton, of New Jersey?" 

The delegation was shocked, disappointed, outraged. 
Mr. Lincoln, continuing in the same phlegmatic manner, 
again referred to his high appreciation of the abilities of 
Mr. Seward. He said Mr. Dayton was an old Whig, 
like Mr. Seward and himself, and that he was from New 
Jersey, and was " next door to New York." Mr. Seward, 
he added, could go as Minister to England, where his 
genius would find wonderful scope in keeping Europe 
straight about our home troubles. The delegation was 
nonplussed. They, however, saw and accepted the 
inevitable. For the first time they realized that indomi- 
table will of the President-elect which afterward became 
so notable throughout the trying times of his Administra- 
tion. They saw that "the mountain would not come 
to Mahomet, with the conditions imposed, and so 
Mahomet had to go to the mountain." The difficulty 
was accommodated by Mr. Seward coming into the 
Cabinet with Mr. Chase, and the Administrative or- 
ganization was effected to Mr. Lincoln's satisfaction. 

Mr. Seward was a Republican with centralizing ten- 
dencies, and had been a prominent and powerful mem- 
ber of the old Whig party, which had gone into decay. 



52 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Mr. Chase was a State's Rights Federal Republican, not 
having been strictly attached to either the Whig or 
the Democratic organization ; he had for years been a 
conspicuous leader of the Antislavery party, which had 
risen on the ruins of the Whig party, while Mr. Seward 
had cautiously abstained from any connection with the 
Antislavery party per se. Mr. Lincoln adopted, whether 
consciously or unconsciously, the policy of Washington 
in bringing men of opposite principles into his Cabinet, 
as far as he could do so, hoping that they would 
harmonize in administrative measures ; and in doing 
this in the case of Mr. Seward and Mr. Chase he 
entirely reversed the original arrangement, by giving 
Mr. Seward, a Republican centralist, the post of Jeffer- 
son, a State's Rights Federal Republican ; and to 
Mr. Chase, a Federal Republican, the post assigned to 
Hamilton, a centralist. 

There was a prevailing opinion among a great many 
politicians that Mr. Seward had an overpowering influ- 
ence with Mr. Lincoln ; and the belief was general that 
he, in whose ability and moderation the conservative 
people at the North seemed to have the most confi- 
dence, would be the real head of the Administration. 
This supposition was a great mistake. It underrated the 
man who had been elected to wield the helm of govern- 
ment in the troubled waters of the brewing storm. Mr. 
Lincoln was as self-reliant a man as ever breathed the 
atmosphere of patriotism. Up to the 2d of March, Mr. 
Seward had no intimation of the purport of the Inaugural 



INA UG URA TION. 5 3 

Address. The conclusion was inevitable that if he was 
to be at the head of the Administration, he would not 
have been left so long in the dark as to the first act of 
Mr. Lincoln's official life. When the last faint hope was 
destroyed that Mr. Seward was virtually to be President, 
the outlook of the country seemed to these politicians 
discouraging. 

The 4th of March at last arrived. Mr. Lincoln's 
feelings, as the hour approached which was to invest him 
with greater responsibilities than had fallen upon any of 
his predecessors, may readily be imagined. If he saw in 
his elevation another step toward the fulfilment of that 
destiny which he at times believed awaited him, the 
thought served but to tinge with a peculiar, almost 
poetic, sadness the manner in which he addressed 
himself to the solemn duties of the hour. 

There were apprehensions of danger to Mr. Lincoln's 
person, and extensive preparations were made for his 
protection, under the direction of Lieutenant-General 
Scott. The carriage in which the President-elect rode 
to the Capitol was closely guarded by marshals and 
cavalry, selected with care from the most loyal and 
efficient companies of the veteran troops and marines. 
Mr. Lincoln appeared as usual, composed and thought- 
ful, apparently unmoved and indifferent to the excite- 
ment around him. On arriving at the platform, he was 
introduced to the vast audience awaiting his appearance 
by Senator Baker, of Oregon. Stepping forward, in a 
manner deliberate and impressive, the President-elect 



54 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 

delivered in a clear, penetrating voice his Inaugural 
Address, closing this remarkable production with the 
words, which so forcibly exemplified his character and 
so clearly indicated his goodness of heart : " I am loath 
to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must 
not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it 
must not break, our bonds of affection. The mystic 
chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and 
patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all 
over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the 
Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the 
better angels of our nature." 

The immense audience present was deeply impressed, 
and with awe viewed the momentous character of the 
occasion they were given to contemplate. The Address 
produced comparatively little applause and no mani- 
festations of disapprobation. All were moved with a 
profound anxiety concerning their own respective States 
and the future of their country; and the sentiments 
they had just heard uttered from the Chief Executive 
foreshadowed the storm awaiting the nation. 

After the oath of office was administered to him by 
the venerable Chief-Justice of the United States, Judge 
Roger B. Taney, Mr. Lincoln was escorted to the Presi- 
dential Mansion in the same order that was observed 
in going to the Capitol, amid the firing of cannon 
and the sound of music. Mr. Buchanan accompanied 
him, and in taking his leave expressed his wish and 
hope, in earnest and befitting language, that Mr. Lin- 



JNA UG URA TION. 5 5 

coin's Administration of the government would be a 
happy and prosperous one. 

The Inauguration over, every one seemed to have a 
sense of relief : there had been no accident, no demonstra- 
tion which could be construed as portending disturbance. 

The New York delegation, on the night of the Inau- 
guration, paid their respects to the President. He said 
to them that he was rejoiced to see the good feeling 
manifested by them, and hoped that our friends of the 
South would be satisfied, when they read his Inaugural 
Address, that he had made it as nearly right as it was 
possible for him to make it in accordance with the 
Constitution, which he thought was as good for the 
people who lived south of the Mason and Dixon line 
as for those who lived north of it. 



CHAPTER IV. 

GLOOMY FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 

AFTER the first shout of triumph and the first glow 
of exultation consequent on his Inauguration, Mr. 
Lincoln soon began to realize with dismay what was 
before him. Geographical lines were at last distinctly 
drawn. He was regarded as a sectional representative, 
elected President with most overwhelming majorities 
north of Mason and Dixon's line, and not a single elec- 
toral vote south of it. He saw a great people, compris- 
ing many millions and inhabiting a vast region of our 
common country, exasperated by calumny, stung by 
defeat, and alarmed by the threats of furious fanatics 
whom demagogues held up to them as the real and 
only leaders of the triumphant party. His election had 
brought the nation face to face with the perils that had 
been feared by every rank and party since the dawn of 
Independence, with the very contingency, the crisis in 
which all venerable authority had declared from the 
beginning that the Union would surely perish, and the 
fragments, after exhausting each other by commercial 
restrictions and disastrous wars, would find ignominious 
safety in as many paltry despotisms as there were 
fragments. 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 57 

On the 3d of March, 1861, the Thirty-sixth Congress 
had reached the prescribed period of its existence, and 
had died a constitutional death. Its last session of 
three months had been spent in full view of an awful 
public calamity, which it had made no effort to avert or 
to mitigate. It saw the nation compassed round with a 
frightful danger, but it proposed no plan either of con- 
ciliation or defence. It adjourned forever, and left the 
law precisely as it found it. 

In his message to Congress, President Buchanan had 
said : " Congress alone has power to decide whether the 
present laws can or cannot be amended so as to carry 
out more effectually the objects of the Constitution." 
With Congress rested the whole responsibility of peace 
or war, and with them the message left it. But Congress 
behaved like a body of men who thought that the calami- 
ties of the nation were no special business of theirs. 
The members from the extreme South were watching for 
the proper moment to retire; those from the middle 
slave States were a minority which could only stand and 
wait upon the movements of others ; while the great and 
all-powerful Northern party was what the French minis- 
ter called "a mere aggregation of individual ambitions." 
They had always denied the possibility of a dissolution 
of the Union in any conjuncture of circumstances ; and 
their habit of disregarding the evidence was too strong 
to be suddenly changed. In the philosophy of their 
politics it had not been dreamed of as a possible thing. 
Even when they saw it assume the shape of a fixed and 



58 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

terrible fact, they could not comprehend its meaning. 
They looked at the frightful phenomenon as a crowd of 
barbarians might look at an eclipse of the sun : they saw 
the light of heaven extinguished and the earth covered 
with strange and unaccountable darkness, but they could 
neither understand its cause nor foresee its end, they 
knew neither whence it came nor what it portended. 
The nation was going to pieces, and Congress left it to 
its fate. The vessel, freighted with all the hopes and all 
the wealth of thirty millions of free people was drifting 
to her doom, and they who alone had power to control 
her course refused to lay a finger on the helm. 

Only a few days before the convening of this Con- 
gress the following letter was written by Hon. Joseph 
Holt, Postmaster-General, afterward Secretary of War, 

under Buchanan : 

WASHINGTON, Nov. 30, 1860. 

MY DEAR SIR, I am in receipt of yours of the 27th 
inst., and thank you for your kindly allusion to myself, in 
connection with the fearful agitation which now threatens 
the dismemberment of our government. I think the Presi- 
dent's message will meet your approbation, but I little hope 
that it will accomplish anything in moderating the madness 
that rules the hour. The indications are that the movement 
has passed beyond the reach of human control. God alone 
can disarm the cloud of its lightnings. South Carolina will 
be out of the Union, and in the armed assertion of a distinct 
nationality probably before Christmas. This is certain, un- 
less the course of events is arrested by prompt and decided 
action on the part of the people and Legislatures of the 
Northern States ; the other slave States will follow South 
Carolina in a few weeks or months. The border States, 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT, 59 

now so devoted to the Union, will linger a little while; but 
they will soon unite their fortunes with those of their South- 
ern sisters. Conservative men have now no ground to stand 
upon, no weapon to battle with. All has been swept from 
them by the guilty agitations and infamous legislation of the 
North. I do not anticipate, with any confidence, that the 
North will act up to the solemn responsibilities of the 
crisis, by retracing those fatal steps which have conducted 
us to the very brink of perdition, politically, morally, and 
financially. 

There is a feeling growing in the free States which says, 
" Let the South go ! " and this feeling threatens rapidly to 
increase. It is, in part, the fruit of complete estrangement, 
and in part a weariness of this perpetual conflict between 
North and South, which has now lasted, with increasing 
bitterness, for the last thirty years. The country wants 
repose, and is willing to purchase it at any sacrifice. Alas 
for the delusion of the belief that repose will follow the over- 
throw of the government ! 

I doubt not, from the temper of the public mind, that the 
Southern States will be allowed to withdraw peacefully ; 
but when the work of dismemberment begins, we shall break 
up the fragments from month to month, with the nonchalance 
with which we break the bread upon our breakfast-table. If 
all the grave and vital questions which will at once arise 
among these fragments of the ruptured Republic can be 
adjusted without resort to arms, then we have made vast 
progress since the history of our race was written. But the 
tragic events of the hour will show that we have made no 
progress at all. We shall soon grow up a race of chieftains, 
who will rival the political bandits of South America and 
Mexico, and who will carve out to us our miserable heritage 
with their bloody swords. The masses of the people dream 
not of these things. They suppose the Republic can be 
destroyed to-day, and that peace will smile over its ruins 



6O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

to-morrow. They know nothing of civil war: this Marah in 
the pilgrimage of nations has happily been for them a sealed 
fountain ; they know not, as others do, of its bitterness, and 
that civil war is a scourge that darkens every fireside, and 
wrings every heart with anguish. They are to be commiser- 
ated, for they know not what to do. Whence is all this? 
It has come because the pulpit and press and the cowering, 
unscrupulous politicians of the North have taught the people 
that they are responsible for the domestic institutions of the 
South, and that they have been faithful to God only by being 
unfaithful to the compact which they have made to their 
fellow-men. Hence those Liberty Bills which degrade the 
statute-books of some ten of the free States, and are con- 
fessedly a shameless violation of the federal Constitution in 
a point vital to her honor. We have presented, from year to 
year, the humiliating spectacle of free and sovereign States, 
by a solemn act of legislation, legalizing the theft of their 
neighbors' property. I say theft, since it is not the less so 
because the subject of the despicable crime chances to be a 
slave, instead of a horse or bale of goods. 

From this same teaching has come the perpetual agitation 
of the slavery question, which has reached the minds of the 
slave population of the South, and has rendered every home 
in that distracted land insecure. This is the feature of the 
irrepressible conflict with which the Northern people are not 
familiar. In almost every part of the South miscreant 
fanatics have been found, and poisonings and conflagrations 
have marked their footsteps. Mothers there lie down at 
night trembling beside their children, and wives cling to 
their husbands as they leave their homes in the morning. I 
have a brother residing in Mississippi, who is a lawyer by 
profession, and a cotton planter, but has never had any con- 
nection with politics. Knowing the calm and conservative 
tone of his character, I wrote him a few weeks since, and 
implored him to exert his influence in allaying the frenzy of 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 6 1 

the popular mind around him. He has replied to me at 
much length, and after depicting the machinations of the 
wretches to whom I have alluded, and the consternation 
which reigns in the homes of the South, he says it is the 
unalterable determination of the Southern people to over- 
throw the government as the only refuge which is left to 
them from these insupportable wrongs ; and he adds : " On 
the success of this movement depends my every interest, 
the safety of my roof from the firebrand, and of my wife and 
children from the poison and the dagger." 

I give you his language because it truthfully expresses the 
Southern mind which at this moment glows as a furnace in 
its hatred to the North because of these infernal agitations. 
Think you that any people can endure this condition of 
things ? When the Northern preacher infuses into his audi- 
ence the spirit of assassins and incendiaries in his crusade 
against slavery, does he think, as he lies down quietly at 
night, of the Southern homes he has robbed of sleep, and the 
helpless women and children he has exposed to all the name- 
less horrors of servile insurrections ? 

I am still for the Union, because I have yet a faint, hesi- 
tating hope that the North will do justice to the South, and 
save the Republic, before the wreck is complete. But action, 
to be available, must be prompt. If the free States will 
sweep the Liberty Bills from their codes, propose a conven- 
tion of the States, and offer guaranties which will afford the 
same repose and safety to Southern homes and property 
enjoyed by those of the North, the impending tragedy may 
be averted, but not otherwise. I feel a positive personal 
humiliation as a member of the human family in the events 
now preparing. If the Republic is to be offered as a sacri- 
fice upon the altar of American servitude, then the question 
of man's capacity for self-government is forever settled. 
The derision of the world will henceforth justly treat the pre- 
tension as a farce ; and the blessed hope which for five 



62 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

thousand years our race, amid storms and battles, has been 
hugging to its bosom, will be demonstrated to be a phantom 
and a dream. 

Pardon these hurried and disjointed words. They have 
been pressed out of my heart by the sorrows that are weigh- 
ing upon it. 

Sincerely your friend, 

J. HOLT. 

Within forty-eight hours after the election of Mr. 
Lincoln, the Legislature of South Carolina called a State 
Convention. It met on the xyth of December, and 
three days later the inevitable ordinance of secession 
was formally adopted, and the little commonwealth be- 
gan to act under the erroneous impression that she was 
a sovereign and independent nation. She benignantly 
accepted the postal service of the " late United States of 
America," and even permitted the gold and silver coins 
of the federal government to circulate within her sacred 
limits. But intelligence from the rest of the country was 
published in her newspapers under the head of " foreign 
news;" her governor appointed a "cabinet," commis- 
sioned " ambassadors," and practised so many fantastic 
imitations of greatness and power, that, but for the 
serious purpose and the bloody event, his proceedings 
would have been very amusing. It was a curious little 
comedy between the acts of a hideous tragedy. 

In the practice which provoked the fury of his North- 
ern countrymen, the slaveholder could see nothing but 
what was right in the sight of God, and just as between 
man and man. Slavery, he said, was as old almost as 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 63 

time. From the hour of deliverance to the day of 
dispersion, it had been practised by the peculiar people 
of God, with the awful sanction of a theocratic State. 
When the Saviour came with his fan in his hand, he not 
only spared it from all rebuke, but recognized and regu- 
lated it as an institution in which he found no evil. The 
Church had bowed to the authority and emulated the 
example of the Master. With her aid and countenance, 
slavery had flourished in every age and country since the 
Christian era; in new lands she planted it, in the old 
she upheld and encouraged it. Even the modest of the 
sectaries had bought and sold, without a shade of doubt 
or a twinge of conscience, the bondmen who fell to their 
lot, until the stock was exhausted or the trade became 
unprofitable. To this rule the Puritans and Quakers 
were no exceptions. Indeed, it was but a few years 
since slavery in Massachusetts had been suffered to die 
of its own accord, and the profits of the slave-trade were 
still to be seen in the stately mansions and pleasant 
gardens of her maritime towns. 

The Southern man could see no reason of State, of 
law, or of religion which required him to yield his most 
ancient rights and his most valuable property to the 
new-born zeal of adversaries whom he more than sus- 
pected of being actuated by mere malignity under the 
guise of philanthropy. All that he knew or had ever 
known of the policy of the State, of religion, or of law 
was on the side of slavery. It was his inheritance in the 
land descended from his remotest ancestry; recorded 



64 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

in the deeds and written in the wills of his nearest 
kindred ; interwoven more or less intimately with every 
tradition and every precious memory; the basis of 
public economy and of private prosperity, fostered by 
the maternal care of Great Britain, and, unlike any 
other domestic institution, solemnly protected by sep- 
arate and distinct provisions in the fundamental law of 
the federal Union. It was, therefore, as much a part 
of his religion to cherish and defend it as it was part of 
the religion of an Abolitionist to denounce and assail 
it. To him, at least, it was still pure and of good report ; 
he held it as sacred as marriage, as sacred as the rela- 
tion of parent and child. Forcible abolition was in his 
eyes as lawless and cruel as arbitrary divorce, or the 
violent abduction of his offspring ; it bereft his fireside, 
broke up his family, set his own household in arms 
against him, and deluded to their ruin those whom the 
Lord had given into his hand for a wise and beneficent 
purpose. He saw in the extinction of slavery the ex- 
tinction of society and the subversion of the State ; 
his imagination could compass no crime more daring 
in the conception, or more terrible in the execution. 
He saw in it the violation of every law, human and 
divine, from the Ten Commandments to the last Act of 
Assembly, the inauguration of every disaster and of 
every enormity which men in their sober senses equally 
fear and detest ; it was the knife to his throat, the torch 
to his roof, a peril unutterable to his wife and daughter, 
and certain penury, or worse, to such of his posterity 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 6$ 

as might survive to other times. We smile at his 
delusion, and laugh at his fears ; but we forget that they 
were shared by eight millions of intelligent people, and 
had been entertained by the entire generation of patriots 
and statesmen who made the Union, by Jefferson who 
opposed slavery and "trembled" for the judgment, as 
by the New- England ship-owner and the Georgia planter, 
who struck hands to continue the African slave-trade 
till 1808. 

Mr. Lincoln himself, with that charity for honest but 
mistaken opinions which more than once induced him 
to pause long and reflect seriously before committing 
his Administration to the extremities of party rage, de- 
clared in an elaborate speech, that, had his lot been cast 
in the South, he would no doubt have been a zealous 
defender of the " peculiar institution," and confessed, 
that, were he then possessed of unlimited power, he 
would not know how to liberate the slaves without fatally 
disturbing the peace and prosperity of the country. He 
had once said in a speech ; " The Southern people are 
just what we would be in their situation. If slavery did 
not now exist among them, they would not introduce it : 
if it did now exist among us, we should not instantly give 
it up. This I believe of the masses North and South. 
Doubtless, there are individuals on both sides who 
would not hold slaves under any circumstances; and 
others would gladly introduce slavery anew if it were 
out of existence. We know that some Southern men do 
free their slaves, go North, and become tip-top Aboli- 

5 



66 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

tionists ; while some Northern men go South, and become 
cruel slave-masters." 

Judge Jeremiah S. Black, in a paper written in re- 
sponse to a memorial address on William H. Seward, 
said : " The Southern people sprang from a race ac- 
customed for two thousand years to dominate over all 
other races with which it came in contact. They 
supposed themselves greatly superior to negroes, most 
of them sincerely believing that if they and the African 
must live together, the best and safest relations that could 
be established between them was that of master and 
servant. . . . Some of them believed slavery a danger- 
ous evil, but did not see how to get rid of it. They felt 
as Jefferson did, that they had the wolf by the ears : 
they could neither hold on with comfort nor let go with 
safety, and it made them extremely indignant to be 
goaded in the rear. In all that country from the Potomac 
to the Gulf there was probably not one man who felt 
convinced that this difficult subject could be determined 
for them by strangers and enemies ; seeing that we in 
the North had held fast to every pound of human flesh 
we owned, and either worked it to death or sold it for a 
price, our provision for the freedom of unborn negroes 
did not tend much to their edification. They had no 
confidence in that ' ripening ' influence of humanity 
which turned up the white of its eyes at a negro com- 
pelled to hoe corn and pick cotton, and yet gloated over 
the prospect of insurrection and massacre." 

Further, emancipation was a question of figures as well 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 67 

as feeling. The loss of four millions of slaves, at an 
average value of six hundred dollars each, constituted in 
the aggregate a sacrifice too vast to be contemplated for 
a moment. Yet this was but a single item. The cotton 
crop of 1860 was worth the round sum of a hundred and 
ninety-eight million dollars, while that of 1859 was 
worth two hundred and forty-seven million dollars, and 
the demand still in excess of the supply. It formed the 
bulk of our exchanges with Europe ; paid our foreign 
indebtedness; maintained a great marine; built towns, 
cities, and railways; enriched factors, brokers, and 
bankers ; filled the federal treasury to overflowing, and 
made the foremost nations of the world commercially 
our tributaries and politically our dependants. A short 
crop embarrassed and distressed all western Europe ; a 
total failure, a war, or non- intercourse, would reduce 
whole communities to famine, and probably precipitate 
them into revolution. It was an opinion generally 
received, and scarcely questioned anywhere, that cotton- 
planting could be carried on only by African labor, and 
that African labor was possible only under compulsion. 
Here, then, was another item of loss, which, being pros- 
pective, could neither be measured by statistics nor com- 
puted in figures. Add to this the sudden conversion 
of millions of producers into mere consumers, the de- 
preciation of real estate, the depreciation of stocks and 
securities as of banks and railways, dependent for their 
value upon the inland commerce in the products of 
slave-labor, with the waste, disorder, and bloodshed 



68 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

inevitably attending a revolution like this, and you have 
a sum-total literally appalling. Could any people on 
earth tamely submit to spoliation so thorough and so 
fatal? The very Bengalese would muster the last man, 
and stake the last jewel, to avert it. 

In the last days of March, 1861, I was sent by Presi- 
dent Lincoln on a confidential mission to Charleston, 
South Carolina. It was in its nature one of great 
delicacy and importance; and the state of the public 
mind in the South at that juncture made it one not 
altogether free from danger to life and limb, as I was 
rather roughly reminded before the adventure was con- 
cluded. Throughout the entire land was heard the tumult 
of mad contention; the representative men, the pol- 
iticians and the press of the two sections were hurling 
at one another deadly threats and fierce defiance ; sober 
and thoughtful men heard with sickening alarm the deep 
and not distant mutterings of the coming storm ; and all 
minds were agitated by gloomy forebodings, distressing 
doubts, and exasperating uncertainty as to what the 
next move in the strange drama would be. Following 
the lead of South Carolina, the secession element of 
other Southern States had cut them loose, one by one, 
from their federal moorings, and " The Confederate 
States of America " was the result. It was at the virtual 
Capital of the State which had been the pioneer in all 
this haughty and stupendous work of rebellion that I 
was about to trust my precious life and limbs as a 
stranger within her gates and an enemy to her cause. 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 69 

Up to this time, Mr. Lincoln had been slow to realize 
or to acknowledge, even to himself, the awful gravity of 
the situation, and the danger that the gathering clouds 
portended. Certain it is that Mr. Seward wildly under- 
rated the courage and determination of the Southern 
people, and both men indulged the hope that pacific 
means might yet be employed to arrest the tide of 
passion and render a resort to force unnecessary. Mr. 
Seward was inclined, as the world knows, to credit the 
Southern leaders with a lavish supply of noisy bravado, 
quite overlooking the dogged pertinacity and courage 
which Mr. Lincoln well knew would characterize those 
men, as well as the Southern masses, in case of 
armed conflict between the sections. Mr. Lincoln had 
Southern blood in his veins, and he knew well the 
character of that people. He believed it possible to 
effect some accommodation by dealing directly with the 
most chivalrous among their leaders; at all events he 
thought it his duty to try, and my embassy to Charleston 
was one of his experiments in that direction. 

It was believed in the South that Mr. Seward had 
given assurances, before and after Lincoln's inauguration, 
that no attempt would be made to reinforce the Southern 
forts, or to resupply Fort Sumter, under a Republican 
Administration. This made matters embarrassing, as 
Mr. Lincoln's Administration had, on the contrary, 
adopted the policy of maintaining the federal authority 
at all points, and of tolerating no interference in the 
enforcement of that authority from any source whatever. 



7O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

When my mission to Charleston was suggested by 
Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Seward promptly opposed it. "Mr. 
President," said he, " I greatly fear that you are send- 
ing Lamon to his grave. I fear they may kill him in 
Charleston. Those people are greatly excited, and are 
very desperate. We can't spare Lamon, and we shall 
feel very badly if anything serious should happen 
to him." 

" Mr. Secretary," replied Mr. Lincoln, " I have known 
Lamon to be in many a close place, and he has never 
been in one that he did n't get out of. By Jing ! I '11 
risk him. Go, Lamon, and God bless you ! Bring back 
a Palmetto, if you can't bring us good news." 

Armed with certain credentials from the President, 
Mr. Seward, General Scott, Postmaster-General Blair, 
and others I set out on my doubtful and ticklish 
adventure. 

While I was preparing my baggage at Willard's Hotel, 
General (then Mr. Stephen A.) Hurlbut, of Illinois, en- 
tered my room, and seeing how I was engaged inquired 
as to the object. He being an old and reliable friend, I 
told him without hesitation ; and he immediately asked 
if he might not be allowed to accompany me. He 
desired, he said, to pay a last visit to Charleston, the 
place of his birth, and to a sister living there, before the 
dread outbreak which he knew was coming. I saw no 
objection. He hurried to his rooms to make his own 
preparations, whence, an hour later, I took him and his 
wife to the boat. 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. Jl 

On arriving at Charleston about eight o'clock Satur- 
day night, the Hurlbuts went to the house of a kinsman, 
and I went to the Charleston Hotel. It so happened 
that several young Virginians arrived on the same train, 
and stopped at the same hotel. They all registered 
from Virginia, and made the fact known with some show 
of enthusiasm that they had come to join the Con- 
federate army. I registered simply " Ward H. Lamon," 
followed by a long dash of the pen. 

That evening, and all the next day (Sunday), little 
attention was paid to me, and no one knew me. I 
visited the venerable and distinguished lawyer, Mr. James 
L. Petigru, and had a conference with him, having 
been enjoined to do so by Mr. Lincoln, who personally 
knew that Mr. Petigru was a Union man. At the close 
of the interview Mr. Petigru said to me that he seldom 
stirred from his house; that he had no sympathy with 
the rash movements of his people, and that few sympa- 
thized with him ; that the whole people were infuriated 
and crazed, and that no act of headlong violence by 
them would surprise him. In saying farewell, with warm 
expressions of good-will, he said that he hoped he should 
not be considered inhospitable if he requested me not 
to repeat my visit, as every one who came near him was 
watched, and intercourse with him could only result in 
annoyance and danger to the visitor as well as to himself, 
and would fail to promote any good to the Union cause. 
It was now too late, he said ; peaceable secession or war 
was inevitable. 



72 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Governor Pickens and his admirable and beautiful 
wife were boarding at the Charleston Hotel. Early 
Monday morning I sent my card to the governor re- 
questing an interview, and stating that I was from the 
President of the United States. The answer came that 
he would see me as soon as he was through with his 
breakfast. I then strolled downstairs into the main 
lobby and corridors, where, early as the hour was, I 
soon discovered that something wonderful was " in the 
wind," and, moreover, that that wonderful something was 
embodied in my own person. I was not, like Hamlet, 
" the glass of fashion and the mould of form," yet I was 
somehow "the observed of all observers." I was con- 
scious that I did not look like "the expectancy and 
rose of the fair state ; " that my "personal pulchritude," 
as a witty statesman has it, was not overwhelming to 
the beholder ; and yet I found myself at that moment 
immensely, not to say alarmingly, attractive. 

The news had spread far and wide that a great 
Goliath from the North, a "Yankee Lincoln-hireling," 
had come suddenly into their proud city, uninvited, un- 
heralded. Thousands of persons had gathered to see 
the strange ambassador. The corridors, the main office 
and lobby, were thronged, and the adjacent streets were 
crowded as well with excited spectators, mainly of the 
lower order, that class of dowdy patriots who in times 
of public commotion always find the paradise of the 
coward, the bruiser, and the blackguard. There was a 
wagging of heads, a chorus of curses and epithets not at 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 73 

all complimentary, and all eyes were fixed upon the 
daring stranger, who seemed to be regarded not as the 
bearer of the olive-branch of peace, but as a demon 
come to denounce the curse of war, pestilence, and 
famine. This was my initiation into the great "Un- 
pleasantness," and the situation was certainly painful 
and embarrassing ; but there was plainly nothing to do 
but to assume a bold front. 

I pressed my way through the mass of excited 
humanity to the clerk's counter, examined the register, 
then turned, and with difficulty elbowed my way through 
the dense crowd to the door of the breakfast-room. 
There I was touched upon the shoulder by an elderly 
man, who asked in a tone of peremptory authority, 

"Are you Mark Lamon?" 

" No, sir ; I am Ward H. Lamon, at your service." 

"Are you the man who registered here as Lamon, 
from Virginia?" 

" I registered as Ward H. Lamon, without designating 
my place of residence. What is your business with 
me, sir?" 

" Oh, well," continued the man of authority, " have 
you any objection to state what business you have here 
in Charleston?" 

" Yes, I have." Then after a pause, during which I 
surveyed my questioner with as much coolness as the 
state of my nerves would allow, I added, " My business 
is with your governor, who is to see me as soon as 
he has finished his breakfast. If he chooses to impart 



74 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

to you my business in this city, you will know it; 
otherwise, not." 

" Beg pardon ; if you have business with our governor, 
it 's all right ; we "11 see." 

Shortly after breakfast I was waited upon by one of 
the governor's staff, a most courtly and agreeable gentle- 
man, in full military uniform, who informed me that the 
governor was ready to receive me. 

My interview with Governor Pickens was, to me, a 
memorable one. After saying to him what President 
Lincoln had directed me to say, a general discussion 
took place touching the critical state of public affairs. 
With a most engaging courtesy, and an open frankness 
for which that brave man was justly celebrated, he told 
me plainly that he was compelled to be both radical 
and violent ; that he regretted the necessity of violent 
measures, but that he could see no way out of existing 
difficulties but to fight out. " Nothing," said he, " can 
prevent war except the acquiescence of the President 
of the United States in secession, and his unalterable 
resolve not to attempt any reinforcement of the Southern 
forts. To think of longer remaining in the Union is 
simply preposterous. We have five thousand well-armed 
soldiers around this city ; all the States are arming with 
great rapidity; and this means war with all its conse- 
quences. Let your President attempt to reinforce Sumter, 
and the tocsin of war will be sounded from every hill-top 
and valley in the South." 

This settled the matter so far as accommodation was 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 75 

concerned. There was no doubt in my mind that 
Pickens voiced the sentiment of Rebellion. 

My next duty was to confer with Major Anderson at 
the beleaguered fort. On my intimating a desire to see 
that officer, Governor Pickens promptly placed in my 
hands the following: 

STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT, 25 March, 1861. 
Mr. Lamon, from the President of the United States, 
requests to see Major Anderson at Fort Sumter, on busi- 
ness entirely pacific ; and my aid, Colonel Duryea, will go 
with him and return, merely to see that every propriety is 
observed toward Mr. Lamon. 

F. W. PICKENS, Governor. 

A flag-of-truce steamer was furnished by the governor, 
under charge of Colonel Duryea, a genial and accom- 
plished gentleman to whom I am indebted for most 
considerate courtesy, and I proceeded to Fort Sumter. 
I found Anderson in a quandary, and deeply despondent. 
He fully realized the critical position he and his men 
occupied, and he apprehended the worst possible con- 
sequences if measures were not promptly taken by the 
government to strengthen him. His subordinates gener- 
ally, on the contrary, seemed to regard the whole affair 
as a sort of picnic, and evinced a readiness to meet any 
fate. They seemed to be "spoiling for a fight," and 
were eager for anything that might relieve the monotony 
of their position. War seemed as inevitable to them as 
to Governor Pickens. 



76 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

After a full and free conference with Major Anderson, 
I returned to the Charleston Hotel. The excited crowds 
were still in the streets, and the hotel was overflowing 
with anxious people. The populace seemed maddened 
by their failure to learn anything of the purpose or 
results of my visit. The aspect of things was threatening 
to my personal safety, and Governor Pickens had already 
taken steps to allay the excitement. 

A rope had been procured by the rabble and thrown 
into one corner of the reading-room ; and as I entered 
the room I was accosted by a seedy patriot, somewhat 
past the middle age. He was dressed in a fork-tailed 
coat with brass buttons, which looked as if it might have 
done service at Thomas Jefferson's first reception. He 
wore a high bell-crowned hat, with an odor and rust of 
antiquity which seemed to proclaim it a relic from the 
wardrobe of Sir Walter Raleigh. His swarthy throat was 
decorated with a red bandana cravat and a shirt-collar 
of amazing amplitude, and of such fantastic pattern that 
it might have served as a " fly " to a Sibley tent. This 
individual was in a rage. Kicking the rope into the 
middle of the room, and squaring himself before me, 
he said, 

"Do you think that is strong enough to hang a 

damned Lincoln abolition hireling?" 

To this highly significant interrogatory I replied, aim- 
ing my words more at the crowd than at the beggarly 
ruffian who had addressed me, " Sir, I am a Virginian 
by birth, and a gentleman, I hope, by education and 



JState of J&onth Ofarolina 



EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT. 




FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. fj 

instinct. I was sent here by the President of the United 
States to see your governor " 

The seedy spokesman interrupted with, " Damn your 
President ! " 

I continued : "You, sir, are surrounded by your 
friends by a mob ; and you are brutal and cowardly 
enough to insult an unoffending stranger in the great 
city that is noted for its hospitality and chivalry ; and 
let me tell you that your conduct is cowardly in the 
extreme. Among gentlemen, the brutal epithets you 
employ are neither given nor received." 

This saucy speech awoke a flame of fury in the mob, 
and there is no telling what might have happened but 
for the lucky entrance into the room at that moment of 
Hon. Lawrence Keitt, who approached me and laying 
his hand familiarly on my shoulder, said, 

" Why, Lamon, old fellow, where did you come from ? 
I am glad to see you." 

The man with the brass buttons showed great aston- 
ishment. "Keitt," said he, "do you speak to that 
Lincoln hireling?" 

"Stop!" thundered Keitt ; "you insult Lamon, and 
you insult me ! He is a gentleman, and my friend. 
Come, Lamon, let us take a drink." 

The noble and generous Keitt knew me well, and it 
may be supposed that his " smiling " invitation was 
music in one sinner's ears at least. Further insults to 
the stranger from the loafer element of Charleston were 
not indulged in. The extremes of Southern character'- 



78 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

the top and the bottom of the social scale in the 
slaveholding States were exemplified in the scene just 
described, by Keitt and the blustering bully with the 
shirt-collar. The first, cultivated, manly, noble, hospit- 
able, brave, and generous ; the other, mean, unmanly, 
unkempt, untaught, and reeking with the fumes of the 
blackguard and the brute. 6 

My instructions from Mr. Lincoln required me to see 
and confer with the postmaster of Charleston. By this 
time the temper of the riotous portion of the populace, 
inflamed by suspicion and disappointed rage, made my 
further appearance on the streets a hazardous adventure. 
Again Governor Pickens, who despised the cowardice as 
he deplored the excesses of the mob, interposed his 
authority. To his thoughtful courtesy I was indebted 
for the following pass, which enabled me to visit the 
postmaster without molestation : 

HEADQUARTERS, 25 March, 1861. 

The bearer, Mr. Lamon, has business with Mr. Huger, 
Postmaster of Charleston, and must not be interrupted by 
any one, as his business in Charleston is entirely pacific in 
all matters. 

F. W. PICKENS, Governor. 

At eight o'clock that Monday night I took the train 
for my return to Washington. At a station in the out- 
skirts of the city my friends, General Hurlbut and wife, 
came aboard. Hurlbut knew the conductor, who gave 
him seats that were as private as possible. Very soon 
the conductor slipped a note into my hands that was 



FOREBODINGS OF COMING CONFLICT. 79 

significant as well as amusing. It was from General 
Hurlbut, and was in the following words : 

Don't you recognize us until this train gets out of South 
Carolina. There is danger ahead, and a damned sight of it. 

STEVE. 

This injunction was scrupulously observed. I learned 
afterward that about all of Hurlbut's time in Charleston 
had been employed in eluding the search of the vigilants, 
who, it was feared, would have given him a rough wel- 
come to Charleston if they had known in time of his 
presence there. 

Without further adventure we reached Washington in 
safety, only a few days before the tocsin of war was 
sounded by the firing on Fort Sumter. On my return, 
the President learned for the first time that Hurlbut had 
been in South Carolina. He laughed heartily over my 
unvarnished recital of Hurlbut's experience in the hot- 
bed of secession, though he listened with profound and 
saddened attention to my account of the condition of 
things in the fort on the one hand, and in the State and 
city on the other. 

I brought back with me a Palmetto branch, but I 
brought no promise of peace. I had measured the 
depth of madness that was hurrying the Southern masses 
into open rebellion ; I had ascertained the real temper 
and determination of their leaders by personal contact 
with them ; and this made my mission one that was 
not altogether without profit to the great man at whose 
bidding I made the doubtful journey. 



CHAPTER V. 

HIS SIMPLICITY. 

r)OLITICAL definitions have undergone some curious 
* changes in this country since the beginning of the 
present century. In the year 1801, Thomas Jefferson 
was the first " republican " President of the United 
States, as the term was then defined. Sixty years later, 
Abraham Lincoln was hailed as our first Republican 
President. The Sage of Monticello was, indeed, the 
first to introduce at the Executive Mansion a genuine 
republican code of social and official etiquette. It 
was a wide departure from the ceremonial and showy 
observances for which Hamilton, his great rival, had so 
long contended, and which were peculiarly distasteful to 
the hardy freemen of the new Republic. 

Mr. Lincoln profoundly admired the Virginian. Noth- 
ing in the career or the policy of Jefferson was nearer 
his heart than the homely and healthful republicanism 
implied in the term " Jeffersonian simplicity." While 
Mr. Lincoln occupied the White House, his intercourse 
with his fellow-citizens was fashioned after the Jeffer- 
sonian idea. He believed that there should be the 
utmost freedom of intercourse between the people and 
their President. Jefferson had the truly republican idea 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 8 1 

that he was the servant of the people, not their master. 
That was Lincoln's idea also. Jefferson welcomed to 
the White House the humble mechanic and the haughty 
aristocrat with the same unaffected cordiality. Mr. 
Lincoln did the same. "There is no smell of royalty 
about this establishment," was a jocular expression which 
I have heard Mr. Lincoln use many times ; and it was 
thoroughly characteristic of the man. 

" Lincolnian simplicity " was, in fact, an improvement 
on the code of his illustrious predecessor. The doors of 
the White House were always open. Mr. Lincoln was 
always ready to greet visitors, no matter what their rank 
or calling, to hear their complaints, their petitions, or 
their suggestions touching the conduct of public affairs. 
The ease with which he could be approached vastly 
increased his labor. It also led to many scenes at the 
White House that were strangely amusing and sometimes 
dramatic. 

Early in the year 1865, certain influential citizens of 
Missouri, then in Washington, held a meeting to consider 
the disturbed state of the border counties, and to 
formulate a plan for securing Executive interference in 
behalf of their oppressed fellow-citizens. They " where- 
ased " and " resolved " at great length, and finally 
appointed a committee charged with the duty of visiting 
Mr. Lincoln, of stating their grievances, and of demand- 
ing the removal of General Fisk and the appointment of 
Gen. John B. McPherson in his place. The committee 
consisted of an ex-governor and several able and earnest 

6 



82 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

gentlemen deeply impressed with the importance of their 
mission. 

They entered the White House with some trepidation. 
It was at a critical period of the war, and they supposed 
it would be difficult to get the ear of the President. 
Grant was on the march to Richmond, and Sherman's 
army was returning from the sea. The committee knew 
that Mr. Lincoln would be engaged in considering the 
momentous events then developing, and they were there- 
fore greatly surprised to find the doors thrown open to 
them. They were cordially invited to enter Mr. Lin- 
coln's office. 

The ex-governor took the floor in behalf of the op- 
pressed Missourians. He first presented the case of a 
certain lieutenant, who was described as a very lonely 
Missourian, an orphan, his family and relatives having 
joined the Confederate army. Through evil reports 
and the machinations of enemies this orphan had got 
into trouble. Among other things the orator described 
the orphan's arrest, his trial and conviction on the 
charge of embezzling the money of the government ; and 
he made a moving appeal to the President for a reopen- 
ing of the case and the restoration of the abused man to 
his rank and pay in the army. The papers in the case 
were handed to Mr. Lincoln, and he was asked to 
examine them for himself. 

The bulky package looked formidable. Mr. Lincoln 
took it up and began reading aloud : " Whereas, conduct 
unbecoming an officer and a gentleman " " Whereas, 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 83 

without resentment the said lieutenant received a letter 

from a man named , stating that the President must 

be a negro ; " and " Whereas, the said lieutenant cor- 
ruptly received while an officer on duty, from a man in 
, the sum of forty dollars " 

" Stop there ! " exclaimed the lieutenant, who was at 
that moment behind the ex-governor's chair. " Why, 
Mr. Lincoln beg pardon Mr. President, it wa' n't but 
thirty dollars." 

" Yes," said the governor, " that charge, Mr. President, 
is clearly wrong. It was only thirty dollars, as we can 
prove." 

" Governor," said Mr. Lincoln, who was by this time 
thoroughly amused, but grave as a judge, " that reminds 
me of a man in Indiana, who was in a battle of words 
with a neighbor. One charged that the other's daughter 
had three illegitimate children. ' Now,' said the man 
whose family was so outrageously scandalized, ' that 's a 
lie, and I can prove it, for she only has two.' This case 
is no better. Whether the amount was thirty dollars or 
thirty thousand dollars, the culpability is the same." 
Then, after reading a little further, he said : " I believe I 
will leave this case where it was left by the officers who 
tried it." 

The ex-governor next presented a very novel case. 
With the most solemn deliberation he began : " Mr. 
President, I want to call your attention .to the case of 
Betsy Ann Dougherty, a good woman. She lived in 
County, and did my washing for a long time. Her 



84 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

husband went off and joined the rebel army, and I wish 
you would give her a protection paper." The solemnity 
of this appeal struck Mr. Lincoln as uncommonly 
ridiculous. 

The two men looked at each other, the governor 
desperately in earnest, and the President masking his 
humor behind the gravest exterior. At last Mr. Lincoln 
asked with inimitable gravity, " Was Betsy Ann a good 
washerwoman ? " 

" Oh, yes, sir ; she was indeed." 

" Was your Betsy Ann an obliging woman ? " 

" Yes, she was certainly very kind," responded the 
governor, soberly. 

"Could she do other things than wash?" continued 
Mr. Lincoln, with the same portentous gravity. 

" Oh, yes ; she was very kind very." 

"Where is Betsy Ann?" 

" She is now in New York, and wants to come back 
to Missouri ; but she is afraid of banishment." 

" Is anybody meddling with her? " 

" No ; but she is afraid to come back unless you will 
give her a protection paper." 

Thereupon Mr. Lincoln wrote on a visiting card the 
following : 

Let Betsy Ann Dougherty alone as long as she behaves 
herself. A. LINCOLN. 

He handed this card to her advocate, saying, " Give 
this to Betsy Ann." 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 85 

" But, Mr. President, could n't you write a few words 
to the officers that would insure her protection? " 

"No," said Mr. Lincoln, "officers have no time now 
to read letters. Tell Betsy Ann to put a string in this 
card and hang it round her neck. When the officers 
see this, they will keep their hands off your Betsy Ann." 

A critical observer of this ludicrous scene could not 
fail to see that Mr. Lincoln was seeking needed relaxation 
from overburdening cares, relief from the severe mental 
strain he was daily undergoing. By giving attention to 
mirth-provoking trifles along with matters of serious 
concern, he found needed diversion. We can never 
know how much the country profited by the humor- 
loving nature of this wonderful man. 

After patiently hearing all the Missouri committee had 
to say, and giving them the best assurances circumstances 
would allow, he dismissed them from his presence, 
enjoyed a hearty laugh, and then relapsed into his 
accustomed melancholy, contemplative mood, as if look- 
ing for something else, looking for the end. He sat 
for a time at his desk thinking, then turning to me he 
said : " This case of our old friend, the governor, and 
his Betsy Ann, is a fair sample of the trifles I am con- 
stantly asked to give my attention to. I wish I had 
no more serious questions to deal with. If there were 
more Betsy Anns and fewer fellows like her husband, we 
should be better off. She seems to have laundered the 
governor to his full satisfaction, but I am sorry she 
did n't keep her husband washed cleaner." 



86 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Mr. Lincoln was by nature singularly merciful. The 
ease with which he could be reached by persons who 
might profit by his clemency gave rise to many notable 
scenes in the White House during the war. 

Mr. Wheeler tells of a young man who had been con- 
victed by a military court of sleeping at his post, a 
grave offence, for which he had been sentenced to death. 
He was but nineteen years of age, and the only son of a 
widowed mother. He had suffered greatly with home- 
sickness, and overpowered at night with cold and watch- 
ing, was overcome by sleep. He had always been an 
honest, faithful, temperate soldier. His comrades tele- 
graphed his mother of his fate. She at once went to 
Orlando Kellogg, whose kind heart promptly responded 
to her request, and he left for Washington by the first 
train. He arrived in that city at midnight. The boy 
was to be executed on the afternoon of the next day. 
With the aid of his friend, Mr. Wheeler, he passed the 
military guard about the White House and reached the 
doorkeeper, who, when he knew Mr. Kellogg's errand, 
took him to Mr. Lincoln's sleeping-room. Arousing Mr. 
Lincoln, Mr. Kellogg made known the emergency in a 
few words. Without stopping to dress, the President 
went to another room and awakened a messenger. Then 
sitting down, still in undress, he wrote a telegram to the 
officer commanding at Yorktown to suspend the exe- 
cution of the boy until further orders. The telegram 
was sent at once to the War Department, with directions 
to the messenger to remain until an answer was received. 



' HIS SIMPLICITY. 87 

Getting uneasy at the seeming delay, Mr. Lincoln dressed, 
went to the Department, and remained until the receipt 
of his telegram was acknowledged. Then turning to 
Kellogg, with trembling voice he said, " Now you just 
telegraph that mother that her boy is safe, and I will go 
home and go to bed. I guess we shall all sleep better 
for this night's work." 

A somewhat similar proof of Mr. Lincoln's mercy is the 
story told of a very young man living in one of the south- 
ern counties of Kentucky, who had been enticed into the 
rebel army. After remaining with it in Tennessee a few 
months he became disgusted or weary, and managed to 
make his way back to his home. Soon after his arrival, 
some of the military stationed in the town heard of his 
return and arrested him as a rebel spy, and, after a mili- 
tary trial, he was condemned to be hanged. His family 
was overwhelmed with distress and horror. Mr. Lincoln 
was seen by one of his friends from Kentucky, who 
explained his errand and asked for mercy. " Oh, yes, I 
understand ; some one has been crying, and worked 
upon your feelings, and you have come here to work on 
mine." 

His friend then went more into detail, and assured 
him of his belief in the truth of the story. After some 
deliberation, Mr. Lincoln, evidently scarcely more than 
half convinced, but still preferring to err on the side of 
mercy, replied : " If a man had more than one life, I 
think a little hanging would not hurt this one ; but after 
he is once dead we cannot bring him back, no matter 



88 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

how sorry we may be ; so the boy shall be pardoned." 
And a reprieve was given on the spot. 

The following incident will illustrate another phase of 
Mr. Lincoln's character. A man who was then in jail at 
Newburyport, Mass., as a convicted slave-trader, and 
who had been fined one thousand dollars and sentenced 
to imprisonment for five years, petitioned for a pardon. 
The petition was accompanied by a letter to the Hon. 
John B. Alley, a member of Congress from Lynn, Mass. 
Mr. Alley presented the papers to the President, with a 
letter from the prisoner acknowledging his guilt and the 
justice of his sentence. He had served out the term of 
sentence of imprisonment, but was still held on account 
of the fine not being paid. Mr. Lincoln was much 
moved by the pathetic appeal. He then, after pausing 
some time, said to Mr. Alley : " My friend, this appeal 
is very touching to my feelings, and no one knows my 
weakness better than you. It is, if possible, to be too 
easily moved by appeals for mercy ; and I must say that 
if this man had been guilty of the foulest murder that 
the arm of man could perpetrate, I might forgive him on 
such an appeal. But the man who could go to Africa 
and rob her of her children, and then sell them into 
interminable bondage, with no other motive than that 
which is furnished by dollars and cents, is so much worse 
than the most depraved murderer that he can never 
receive pardon at my hand. No, sir ; he may stay in 
jail forever before he shall have liberty by any act of 
mine.'? on t ^^x,u nm* . . . 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 89 

After the war had been fairly inaugurated, and several 
battles had been fought, a lady from Alexandria visited 
Mr. Lincoln, and importuned him to give an order for 
the release of a certain church in that place which had 
been seized and used as a hospital. He asked and was 
told the name of the church, and that there were but 
three or four wounded persons occupying it, and that the 
inhabitants wanted it to worship in. Mr. Lincoln asked 
her if she had applied to the post surgeon at Alexandria 
to give it up. She answered that she had, and that she 
could do nothing with him. " Well, madam," said he, 
" that is an end of it then. We put him there to attend 
to just such business, and it is reasonable to suppose that 
he knows better what should be done under the circum- 
stances than I do." 

More for the purpose of testing the sentiments of this 
visitor than for any other reason, Mr. Lincoln said : 
" You say you live in Alexandria. How much would 
you be willing to subscribe towards building a hospital 
there?" 

She replied : " You may be aware, Mr. Lincoln, that 
our property has been very much embarrassed by the 
war, and I could not afford to give much for such a 
purpose." 

"Yes," said Mr. Lincoln, "and this war is not over 
yet ; and I expect we shall have another fight soon, and 
that church may be very useful as a hospital in which to 
nurse our poor wounded soldiers. It is my candid 
opinion that God wants that church for our wounded fel- 



9O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

lows. So, madam, you will excuse me. I can do nothing 
for you." 

Afterward, in speaking of this incident, Mr. Lincoln 
said that the lady as a representative of her class in 
Alexandria reminded him of the story of the young man 
who had an aged father and mother owning considerable 
property. The young man being an only son, and be- 
lieving that the old people had lived out their usefulness, 
assassinated them both. He was accused, tried, and 
convicted of the murder. When the judge came to pass 
sentence upon him, and called upon him to give any 
reason he might have why the sentence of death should 
not be passed upon him, he with great promptness replied 
that he hoped the court would be lenient upon him 
because he was a poor orphan ! 

Two ladies from Tennessee called at the White House 
one day, and begged Mr. Lincoln to release their hus- 
bands, who were rebel prisoners at Johnson's Island. 
One of the fair petitioners urged as a reason for the 
liberation of her husband that he was a very religious 
man ; and she rang the changes on this pious plea ad 
nauseam. "Madam," said Mr. Lincoln, "you say your 
husband is a religious man. Perhaps I am not a good 
judge of such matters, but in my opinion the religion 
that makes men rebel and fight against their government 
is not the genuine article ; nor is the religion the right 
sort which reconciles them to the idea of eating their 
bread in the sweat of other men's faces. It is not the 
kind to get to heaven on." After another interview, 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 91 

however, the order of release was made, Mr. Lincoln 
remarking, with impressive solemnity, that he would 
expect the ladies to subdue the rebellious spirit of their 
husbands, and to that end he thought it would be well 
to reform their religion. " True patriotism," said he, 
" is better than the wrong kind of piety." 

This is in keeping with a significant remark made 
by him to a clergyman, in the early days of the war. 
"Let us have faith, Mr. President," said the minister, 
"that the Lord is on our side in this great struggle." 
Mr. Lincoln quietly answered : " I am not at all con- 
cerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always 
on the side of the right ; but it is my constant anxiety 
and prayer that I and this nation may be on the Lord's 
side." 

Clergymen were always welcomed by Mr. Lincoln at 
the White House with the respectful courtesy due to 
their sacred calling. During the progress of the war, 
and especially in its earlier stages, he was visited almost 
daily by reverend gentlemen, sometimes as single visi- 
tors, but more frequently in delegations. He was a 
patient listener to the words of congratulation, counsel, 
admonition, exhortation, and sometimes reproof, which 
fell from the lips of his pious callers, and generally these 
interviews were entertaining and agreeable on both sides. 
It sometimes happened, however, that these visits were 
painfully embarrassing to the President. One delega- 
tion, for example, would urge with importunate zeal a 
strict observance of the Sabbath day by the army ; others 



92 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

would insist upon a speedy proclamation of emancipa- 
tion ; while some recounted the manifold errors of com- 
manding generals, complained of the tardy action of the 
government in critical emergencies, and proposed sweep- 
ing changes of policy in the conduct of the war. 

There was scarcely a day when there were not several 
delegations of this kind to visit him, and a great deal of 
the President's valuable time was employed in this unim- 
portant manner. One day he was asked by one of these 
self-constituted mentors, how many men the rebels had 
in the field? Mr. Lincoln promptly but seriously an- 
swered, " Twelve hundred thousand, according to the 
best authority." His listeners looked aghast. " Good 
heavens ! " they exclaimed in astonishment. " Yes, sir ; 
twelve hundred thousand, no doubt of it. You see, all 
of our generals when they get whipped say the enemy 
outnumbers them from three or five to one, and I must 
believe them. We have four hundred thousand men in 
the field, and three times four make twelve, don't you 
see it? It is as plain to be seen as the nose on a man's 
face ; and at the rate things are now going, with the 
great amount of speculation and the small crop of fight- 
ing, it will take a long time to overcome twelve hundred 
thousand rebels in arms. If they can get subsistence 
they have everything else, except a just cause. Yet it is 
said that ' thrice is he armed that hath his quarrel just.' 
I am willing, however, to risk our advantage of thrice in 
justice against their thrice in numbers." 

On but one occasion that I can now recall was Mr. 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 93 

Lincoln's habitual good humor visibly overtaxed by these 
well-meaning but impatient advisers. A committee of 
clergymen from the West called one day; and the 
spokesman, fired with uncontrollable zeal, poured forth a 
lecture which was fault-finding in tone from beginning to 
end. It was delivered with much energy, and the short- 
comings of the Administration were rehearsed with pain- 
ful directness. The reverend orator made some keen 
thrusts, which evoked hearty applause from other gentle- 
men of the committee. 

Mr. Lincoln's reply was a notable one. With unusual 
animation, he said : " Gentlemen, suppose all the prop- 
erty you possess were in gold, and you had placed it in 
the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River 
on a rope. With slow, cautious, steady step he walks 
the rope, bearing your all. Would you shake the cable, 
and keep shouting to him, < Blondin ! stand up a little 
straighter ! Blondin ! stoop a little more ; go a little 
faster ; lean more to the south ! Now lean a little more 
to the north ! ' would that be your behavior in such an 
emergency ? No ; you would hold your breath, every 
one of you, as well as your tongues. You would keep 
your hands off until he was safe on the other side. This 
government, gentlemen, is carrying an immense weight ; 
untold treasures are in its hands. The persons man- 
aging the ship of state in this storm are doing the best 
they can. Don't worry them with needless warnings and 
complaints. Keep silence, be patient, and we will get 
you safe across. Good day, gentlemen. I have other 
duties pressing upon me that must be attended to." 



94 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

This incident made Mr. Lincoln a little shy of 
preachers for a time. " But the latch-string is out," 
said he, " and they have the right to come here and 
preach to me if they will go about it with some gentle- 
ness and moderation." He firmly believed that 

" To speak his thoughts is every freeman's right, 
In peace and war, in council and in fight." 

And from this republican idea he would suffer not the 
slightest departure while he was President. 

Soon after the affair just described, a man of remark- 
able appearance presented himself at the White House 
and requested an audience with Mr. Lincoln. He was 
a large, fleshy man, of a stern but homely countenance, 
and of a solemn and dignified carriage. He was dressed 
in a neatly-fitting swallow- tailed coat, ruffled shirt of 
faultless fabric, white cravat, and orange-colored gloves. 
An immense fob chain, to which was attached a huge 
topaz seal, swung from his watch-pocket, and he carried 
a large gold-headed cane. His whole appearance was 
that of a man of great intellect, of stern qualities, of 
strong piety, and of dignified uncomeliness. He looked 
in every way like a minister of the gospel, whose vigor- 
ous mind was bent on godly themes, and whose present 
purpose was to discourse to Mr. Lincoln on matters of 
grave import. 

" I am in for it now," thought the President. "This 
pious man means business. He is no common preacher. 
Evidently his gloomy mind is big with a scheme of no 
ordinary kind." 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 95 

The ceremony of introduction was unusually formal, 
and the few words of conversation that followed were 
constrained. The good man spoke with great delibera- 
tion, as if feeling his way cautiously; but the evident 
restraint which his manner imposed upon Mr. Lincoln 
seemed not to please him. The sequel was amazing. 

Quitting his chair, the portly visitor extended his 
hand to Mr. Lincoln, saying as the latter rose and con- 
fronted him : " Well, Mr. President, I have no business 
with you, none whatever. I was at the Chicago conven- 
tion as a friend of Mr. Seward. I have watched you 
narrowly ever since your inauguration, and I called 
merely to pay my respects. What I want to say is this : 
I think you are doing everything for the good of the 
country that is in the power of man to do. You are on 
the right track. As one of your constituents I now say 
to you, do in future as you damn please, and I will sup- 
port you ! " This was spoken with tremendous effect. 

" Why," said Mr. Lincoln in great astonishment, " I 
took you to be a preacher. I thought you had come 
here to tell me how to take Richmond," and he again 
grasped the hand of his strange visitor. Accurate and 
penetrating as Mr. Lincoln's judgment was concerning 
men, for once he had been wholly mistaken. The scene 
was comical in the extreme. The two men stood gazing 
at each other. A smile broke from the lips of the 
solemn wag and rippled over the wide expanse of his 
homely face like sunlight overspreading a continent, and 
Mr. Lincoln was convulsed with laughter. 



96 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

"Sit down, my friend," said the President; "sit down. 
I am delighted to see you. Lunch with us to-day. Yes, 
you must stay and lunch with us, my friend, for I have 
not seen enough of you yet." 

The stranger did lunch with Mr. Lincoln that day. 
He was a man of rare and racy humor, and the good 
cheer, the fun, the wit, the anecdotes and sparkling con- 
versation that enlivened the scene was the work of two 
of the most original characters ever seen in the White 
House. 

Shortly after the election of Mr. Lincoln, I talked 
with him earnestly about the habits, manners, customs, 
and style of the people with whom he had now to 
associate, and the difference between his present sur- 
roundings and those of his Illinois life, and wherein his 
plain, practical, common-sense actions differed from the 
polite, graceful, and elegant bearing of the cultivated 
diplomat and cultured gentlemen of polite society. 
Thanks to his confidence in my friendship and his affec- 
tionate forbearance with me, he would listen to me with 
the most attentive interest, always evincing the strongest 
desire to correct anything in which he failed to be and 
appear like the people with whom he acted ; for it was 
one of the cardinal traits of his character to be like, of, 
and for the people, whether in exalted or humble life. 

A New Hampshire lady having presented to him a 
soft felt hat of her own manufacture, he was at a loss 
what to do on his arrival in Washington, as the felt hat 
seemed unbecoming for a President-elect. He there- 



HIS SIMPLICITY, 97 

fore said to me : " Hill, this hat of mine won't do. It 
is a felt one, and I have been uncomfortable in it ever 
since we left Harrisburg. Give me that plug of yours, 
until you can go out in the city and buy one either for 
yourself or for me. I think your hat is about the style. 
I may have to do some trotting around soon, and if I 
can't feel natural with a different hat, I may at least look 
respectable in it." 

I went to a store near by and purchased a hat, and by 
the ironing process soon had it shaped to my satisfaction ; 
and I must say that when Mr. Lincoln put it on, he 
looked more presentable and more like a President than 
I had ever seen him. He had very defective taste in 
the choice of hats, the item of dress that does more 
than any other for the improvement of one's personal 
appearance. 

After the hat reform, I think Mr. Lincoln still suffered 
much annoyance from the tyranny of fashion in the 
matter of gloves. His hat for years served the double 
purpose of an ornamental head-gear and a kind of office 
or receptacle for his private papers and memoranda. 
But the necessity to wear gloves he regarded as an af- 
fliction, a violation of the statute against "cruelty to 
animals." Many amusing stories could be told of Mr. 
Lincoln and his gloves. At about the time of his third 
reception he had on a tight-fitting pair of white kids, 
which he had with difficulty got on. He saw approach- 
ing in the distance an old Illinois friend named Simpson, 
whom he welcomed with a genuine Sangamon County 

7 



98 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

shake, which resulted in bursting his white-kid glove 
with an audible sound. Then raising his brawny hand 
up before him, looking at it with an indescribable ex- 
pression, he said, while the whole procession was 
checked, witnessing this scene, " Well, my old friend, 
this is a general bustification. You and I were never 
intended to wear these things. If they were stronger 
they might do well enough to keep out the cold, but 
they are a failure to shake hands with between old 
friends like us. Stand aside, Captain, and I'll see you 
shortly." The procession then advanced. Simpson 
stood aside, and after the unwelcome pageantry was ter- 
minated, he rejoined his old Illinois friend in familiar 
intercourse. 

Mr. Lincoln was always delighted to see his Western 
friends, and always gave them a cordial welcome ; and 
when the proprieties justified it, he met them on the old 
familiar footing, entertaining them with anecdotes in 
unrestrained, free-and-easy conversation. He never 
spoke of himself as President, always referred to his 
office as " this place ; " would often say to an old friend, 
"Call me Lincoln: 'Mr. President' is entirely too 
formal for us." Shortly after the first inauguration, an 
old and respected friend accompanied by his wife 
visited Washington, and as a matter of course paid their 
respects to the President and his family, having been on 
intimate social terms with them for many years. It was 
proposed that at a certain time Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln 
should call at the hotel where they were stopping and 



HIS SIMPLICITY. 99 

take them out for a ride in the Presidential carriage, 
a gorgeous and grandly caparisoned coach, the like of 
which the visitors had seldom seen before that time. As 
close as the intimacy was, the two men had never seen 
each other with gloves on in their lives, except as a 
protection from the cold. Both gentlemen, realizing 
the propriety of their use in the changed condition of 
things, discussed the matter with their respective wives, 
who decided that gloves were the proper things. Mr. 
Lincoln reluctantly yielded to this decree, and placed 
his in his pocket, to be used or not according to circum- 
stances. On arriving at the hotel he found his friend, 
who doubtless had yielded to his wife's persuasion, 
gloved in the most approved style. The friend, taking 
in the situation, was hardly seated in the carriage when 
he began to take off the clinging kids ; and at the same 
time Mr. Lincoln began to draw his on, seeing which 
they both burst into a hearty laugh, when Mr. Lincoln 
exclaimed, " Oh, why should the spirit of mortals be 
proud?" Then he added, "I suppose it is polite to 
wear these things, but it is positively uncomfortable for 
me to do so. Let us put them in our pockets ; that is 
the best place for them, and we shall be able to act more 
like folks in our bare hands." After this the ride was 
as enjoyable as any one they had ever taken in early 
days in a lumber wagon over the prairies of Illinois. 

An instance showing that the deserving low-born com- 
manded Mr. Lincoln's respect and consideration as well 
.as the high-born and distinguished, may be found in 



IOO RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

what he said on one occasion to an Austrian count 
during the rebellion. The Austrian minister to this 
government introduced to the President a count, subject 
of the Austrian government, who was desirous of obtain- 
ing a position in the American army. Being introduced 
by the accredited minister of Austria, he required no 
further recommendation to secure the appointment ; but 
fearing that his importance might not be fully appreciated 
by the republican President, the count was particular 
in impressing the fact upon him that he bore that title, 
and that his family was ancient and highly respectable. 
Mr. Lincoln listened with attention, until this unneces- 
sary commendation was mentioned; then, with a merry 
twinkle in his eye, he tapped the aristocratic sprig of 
hereditary nobility on the shoulder in the most fatherly 
way, as if the gentleman had made a confession of some 
unfortunate circumstance connected with his lineage, for 
which he was in no way responsible, saying, " Never 
mind, you shall be treated with just as much considera- 
tion for all that. I will see to it that your bearing a 
title sha'n't hurt you." 



CHAPTER VI. 

HIS TENDERNESS. 

MR. LINCOLN was one of the bravest men that 
ever lived, and one of the gentlest. The in- 
stances in his earlier career in which he put his life in 
peril to prevent injury to another are very numerous. 
I have often thought that his interposition in behalf of 
the friendless Indian who wandered into camp during 
the Black Hawk war and was about to be murdered by 
the troops, was an act of chivalry unsurpassed in the 
whole story of knighthood. So in the rough days of 
Gentryville and New Salem, he was always on the side 
of the weak and the undefended ; always daring against 
the bully; always brave and tender; always invoking 
peace and good-will, except where they could be had 
only by dishonor. He could not endure to witness the 
needless suffering even of a brute. When riding once 
with a company of young ladies and gentlemen, dressed 
up in his best, he sprang from his horse and released a 
pig which was fast in a fence and squealing in pain, 
because, as he said in his homely way, the misery of the 
poor pig was more than he could bear. 

Hon. I. N. Arnold tells of an incident in the early 
days of Mr. Lincoln's practice at the Springfield bar. 



IO2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

He was coming home from a neighboring county seat, 
with a party of lawyers, riding two by two along a country 
lane. Lincoln and a comrade brought up the rear, and 
when the others stopped to water their horses his comrade 
came up alone. "Where is Lincoln? " was the inquiry. 
"Oh," replied the friend, "when I saw him last he 
had caught two young birds which the wind had blown 
out of their nest, and was hunting up the nest to put 
them back into it" 

How instinctively Mr. Lincoln turned from the delib- 
erate, though lawful and necessary, shedding of blood 
during the war is well known. His Secretaries of War, 
his Judge-Advocate General, and generals in the field, 
were often put to their wits' end to maintain the disci- 
pline of the army against this constant softness of the 
President's good heart. 

Upward of twenty deserters were sentenced at one 
time to be shot. The warrants for their execution were 
sent to Mr. Lincoln for his approval ; but he refused to 
sign them. The commanding general to whose corps 
the condemned men belonged was indignant. He 
hurried to Washington. Mr. Lincoln had listened to 
moving petitions for mercy from humane persons who, 
like himself, were shocked at the idea of the cold- 
blooded execution of more than a score of misguided 
men. His resolution was fixed, but his rule was to 
see every man who had business with him. The irate 
commander, therefore, was admitted into Mr. Lincoln's 
private office. With soldierly bluntness he told the 



If IS TENDERNESS. 1 03 

President that mercy to the few was cruelty to the 
many; that Executive clemency in such a case would 
be a blow at military discipline ; and that unless the 
condemned men were made examples of, the army 
itself would be in danger. "General," said Mr. Lincoln, 
"there are too many weeping widows in the United 
States now. For God's sake don't ask me to add to the 
number; for, I tell you plainly, / won't do it /" He 
believed that kind words were better for the poor fellows 
than cold lead; and the sequel showed that he was 
right. 

Death warrants : execution of unfortunate soldiers, 
how he dreaded and detested them, and longed to 
restore every unfortunate man under sentence to life and 
honor in his country's service ! I had personally an 
almost unlimited experience with him in this class of 
cases, and could fill volumes with anecdotes exhibiting 
this trait in the most touching light, though the names of 
the persons concerned disgraced soldiers, prisoners of 
war, civilian spies would hardly be recognized by the 
readers of this generation. 

But it was the havoc of the war, the sacrifice of patriotic 
lives, the flow of human blood, the mangling of precious 
limbs in the great Union host that shocked him most, 
indeed, on some occasions shocked him almost beyond 
his capacity to control either his judgment or his feelings. 
This was especially the case when the noble victims were 
of his own acquaintance, or of the narrower circle of his 
familiar friends; and then he seemed for the moment 



104 -RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

possessed of a sense of personal responsibility for their 
individual fate, which was at once most unreasonable and 
most pitiful. Of this latter class were many of the most 
gallant men of Illinois and Indiana, who fell dead or 
cruelly wounded in the early battles of the Southwest. 

The " Black boys " were notable among the multitude 
of eager youths who rushed to the field at the first call 
to arms. Their mother,, the widow of a learned Pres- 
byterian minister, had married Dr. Fithian, of Danville, 
111. ; and the relations between Dr. Fithian and his step- 
sons were of the tenderest paternal nature. His pride 
in them and his devotion to them was the theme of 
the country side. Mr. Lincoln knew them well. In his 
frequent visits to Danville on the circuit he seldom 
failed to be the guest of their mother and the excellent 
Dr. Fithian. They were studious and industrious boys, 
earning with their own hands at least a part of the 
money required for their education. When Sumter 
was fired upon they were at Wabash College, Crawfords- 
ville, Ind., and immediately enlisted as privates in the 
Crawfordsville Guards. Their career in the field needs 
no recital here. Mr. Lincoln watched it with intense 
interest. At the battle of Pea Ridge, having reached 
high rank, each promotion for some special act of 
gallantry, they both fell desperately wounded within 
five minutes of each other, and only thirty yards apart. 
Dr. Fithian hastened to them with a father's solicitude, 
and nursed them back to life, through fearful vicissitudes. 
They had scarcely returned to the army when the elder, 



TENDERNESS. 1 05 

John Charles Black, again fell, terribly mangled, at 
Prairie Grove. He was hopelessly shattered ; yet he 
remained in the service and at the front until the last 
gun was fired, and is now among the badly wounded sur- 
vivors of the war. I shall never forget the scene, when I 
took to Mr. Lincoln a letter written by Dr. Fithian to 
me, describing the condition of the "Black boys," and 
expressing his fears that they could not live. Mr. 
Lincoln read it, and broke into tears : " Here, now," he 
cried, " are these dear, brave boys killed in this cursed 
war ! My God, my God ! It is too bad ! They worked 
hard to earn money enough to educate themselves, and 
this is the end ! I loved them as if they were my own." 
I took his directions about my reply to Dr. Fithian, and 
left him in one of the saddest moods in which I ever saw 
him, burdened with an unreasonable sense of personal 
responsibility for the lives of these gallant men. 

Lieut.-Colonel William McCullough, of whom a very 
eminent gentleman said on a most solemn occasion, 
" He was the most thoroughly courageous man I have 
ever known," fell leading a hopeless charge in Missis- 
sippi. He had entered the service at the age of fifty, with 
one arm and one eye. He had been clerk of McLean 
County Circuit Court, 111., for twenty years, and Mr. 
Lincoln knew him thoroughly. His death affected the 
President profoundly, and he wrote to the Colonel's 
daughter, now Mrs. Frank D. Orme, the following peculiar 
letter of condolence : 



IO6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, 
Dec. 23, 1862. 

DEAR FANNY, It is with deep regret that I learn of the 
death of your kind and brave father, and especially that it is 
affecting your young heart beyond what is common in such 
cases. In this sad world of ours sorrow comes to all, and 
to the young it comes with bitterer agony because it takes 
them unawares. The older have learned ever to expect it. 
I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present 
distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. 
You cannot now realize that you will ever feel better. Is 
not this so ? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be 
happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will 
make you some less miserable now. I have had experience 
enough to know what I say, and you need only to believe it 
to feel better at once. The memory of your dear father, 
instead of an agony, will yet be a sad, sweet feeling in your 
heart, of a purer and holier sort than you have known 
before. 

Please present my kind regards to your afflicted mother. 
Your sincere friend, 

A. LINCOLN. 
Miss FANNY MCCULLOUGH, 

Blooniington, 111. 

Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who fell at Shiloh, was a friend 
whom Lincoln held in the tenderest regard. He knew 
his character as a man and his inestimable value as a 
soldier quite as well as they are now known to the coun- 
try. Those who have read General Grant's " Memoirs " 
will understand from that great general's estimate of him 
what was the loss of the federal service in the untimely 
death of Wallace. Mr. Lincoln felt it bitterly and 
deeply. But his was a public and a private grief united, 



HIS TENDERNESS. IO; 

and his lamentations were touching to those who heard 
them, as I did. The following account of General 
Wallace's death is taken from an eloquent memorial 
address, by the Hon. Leonard Swett in the United 
States Circuit Court, upon our common friend the late 
Col. T. Lyle Dickey, who was the father-in-law of 
Wallace : 

" Mrs. Gen. W. H. L. Wallace, who was Judge Dickey's 
eldest daughter, as the battle of Shiloh approached, 
became impressed with the sense of impending danger 
to her husband, then with Grant's army. This impres- 
sion haunted her until she could stand it no longer ; and 
in one of the most severe storms of the season, at twelve 
o'clock at night, she started alone for the army where 
her husband was. At Cairo she was told that no women 
could be permitted to go up the Tennessee River. But 
affection has a persistency which will not be denied. 
Mrs. Wallace finding a party bearing a flag to the 
Eleventh Infantry from the ladies of Ottawa, to be used 
instead of their old one, which had been riddled and 
was battle-worn, got herself substituted to carry that flag : 
and thus with one expedient and another she finally 
reached Shiloh, six hundred miles from home and three 
hundred through a hostile country, and through the more 
hostile guards of our own forces. 

"She arrived on Sunday, the 6th of April, 1862, when 
the great storm-centre of that battle was at its height, 
and in time to receive her husband as he was borne 
from the field terribly mangled by a shot in the head, 



108 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

which he had received while endeavoring to stay the 
retreat of our army as it was falling back to the banks o| 
the river on that memorable Sunday, the first day of that 
bloody battle. She arrived in time to recognize him, 
and be recognized by him ; and a few days afterward) 
saying, ' We shall meet again in heaven,' he died in the 
arms of that devoted wife, surrounded by Judge Dickey 
and his sons and the brothers of General Wallace." 

These are but a few cases of death and mutilation in 
the military service cited to show how completely Mr. 
Lincoln shared the sufferings of our soldiers. It was 
with a weight of singular personal responsibility that 
some of these misfortunes and sorrows seemed to crowd 
upon his sympathetic heart. 

Soon after his election in 1864, when any other man 
would have been carried away on the tide of triumph and 
would have had little thought for the sorrows of a stranger, 
he found time to write the following letter : 

EXECUTIVE MANSION, Nov. 21, 1864. 

DEAR MADAM, I have been shown, in the files of the 
War Department, a statement of the Adjutant-General of 
Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who 
have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak 
and fruitless must be any words of mine which should 
attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so over- 
whelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the 
consolation that may be found in the thanks of the republic 
they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may 
assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you 
only the cherished memory of the loved and lost and the 



HIS TENDERNESS. IOQ 

solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a 
sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. 

Yours very sincerely and respectfully, 

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 
To MRS. BIXBV 
BOSTON, MASS. 

Once when Mr. Lincoln had released a prisoner at the 
request of his mother she, in expressing her gratitude, 
said, " Good-bye, Mr. Lincoln. I shall probably never see 
you again till we meet in heaven." She had the Presi- 
dent's hand in hers, and he was deeply moved. He in- 
stantly took her hand in both of his and, following her to 
the door, said, " I am afraid with all my troubles I shall 
never get to the resting place you speak of, but if I do I 
am sure I shall find you. Your wish that you will meet 
me there has fully paid for all I have done for you." 

Perhaps none of Mr. Lincoln's ambitions were more 
fully realized than the wish expressed to Joshua F. Speed : 
Die when I may, I want it said of me by those who know 
me best that I always plucked a thistle and planted a 
flower where I thought a flower would grow. 



CHAPTER VII. 

DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 

/ "T V HAT " every man has within him his own Patmos," 
-*- Victor Hugo was not far wrong in declaring. 
" Revery," says the great French thinker, "fixes its gaze 
upon the shadow until there issues from it light. Some 
power that is very high has ordained it thus." Mr. Lin- 
coln had his Patmos, his " kinship with the shades ; " 
and this is, perhaps, the strangest feature of his charac- 
ter. That his intellect was mighty and of exquisite 
mould, that it was of a severely logical cast, and that his 
reasoning powers were employed in the main on matters 
eminently practical, all men know who know anything 
about the real Lincoln. The father of modern philoso- 
phy tells us that " the master of superstition is the peo- 
ple ; and in all superstitions wise men follow fools." 
Lord Bacon, however, was not unwilling to believe that 
storms might be dispersed by the ringing of bells, a 
superstition that is not yet wholly dead, even in countries 
most distinguished by modem enlightenment. Those 
whom the great Englishman designated " masters of 
superstition, fools," were the common people whose 
collective wisdom Mr. Lincoln esteemed above the high- 
est gifts of cultured men. That the Patmos of the plain 



DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. Ill 

people, as Mr. Lincoln called them, was his in a large 
measure he freely acknowledged ; and this peculiarity of 
his nature is shown in his strange dreams and presenti- 
ments, which sometimes elated and sometimes disturbed 
him in a very astonishing degree. 

From early youth he seemed conscious of a high mis- 
sion. Long before his admission to the bar, or his 
entrance into politics, he believed that he was destined 
to rise to a great height ; that from a lofty station to 
which he should be called he would be able to confer 
lasting benefits on his fellow-men. He believed also 
that from a lofty station he should fall. It was a vision 
of grandeur and of gloom which was confirmed in his 
mind by the dreams of his childhood, of his youthful 
days, and of his maturer years. The plain people with 
whom his life was spent, and with whom he was in 
cordial sympathy, believed also in the marvellous as 
revealed in presentiments and dreams ; and so Mr. Lin- 
coln drifted on through years of toil and exceptional 
hardship, struggling with a noble spirit for honest pro- 
motion, meditative, aspiring, certain of his star, but 
appalled at times by its malignant aspect. Many times 
prior to his election to the Presidency he was both elated 
and alarmed by what seemed to him a rent in the veil 
which hides from mortal view what the future holds. 
He saw, or thought he saw, a vision of glory and of 
blood, himself the central figure in a scene which his 
fancy transformed from giddy enchantment to the most 
appalling tragedy. 



112 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

On the day of his renomination at Baltimore, Mr. 
Lincoln was engaged at the War Department in constant 
telegraphic communication with General Grant, who was 
then in front of Richmond. Throughout the day he 
seemed wholly unconscious that anything was going on 
at Baltimore in which his interests were in any way con- 
cerned. At luncheon time he went to the White House, 
swallowed a hasty lunch, and without entering his private 
office hurried back to the War Office. On his arrival at 
the War Department the first dispatch that was shown 
him announced the nomination of Andrew Johnson for 
Vice-President. 

" This is strange," said he, reflectively ; " I thought it 
was usual to nominate the candidate for President first." 

His informant was astonished. " Mr. President," said 
he, " have you not heard of your own renomination ? It 
was telegraphed to you at the White House two hours 
ago." 

Mr. Lincoln had not seen the dispatch, had made no 
inquiry about it, had not even thought about it. On 
reflection, he attached great importance to this singular 
occurrence. It reminded him, he said, of an ominous 
incident of mysterious character which occurred just 
after his election in 1860. It was the double image of 
himself in a looking-glass, which he saw while lying on a 
lounge in his own chamber at Springfield. There was 
Abraham Lincoln's face reflecting the full glow of health 
and hopeful life ; and in the same mirror, at the same 
moment of time, was the face of Abraham Lincoln show- 



DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 113 

ing a ghostly paleness. On trying the experiment at 
other times, as confirmatory tests, the illusion reappeared, 
and then vanished as before. 

Mr. Lincoln more than once told me that he could 
not explain this phenomenon ; that he had tried to 
reproduce the double reflection at the Executive Man- 
sion, but without success ; that it had worried him not a 
little ; and that the mystery had its meaning, which was 
clear enough to him. To his mind the illusion was a 
sign, the life-like image betokening a safe passage 
through his first term as President ; the ghostly one, 
that death would overtake him before the close of the 
second. Wholly unmindful of the events happening at 
Baltimore, which would have engrossed the thoughts of 
any other statesman in his place that day, forgetful, in 
fact, of all earthly things except the tremendous events 
of the war, this circumstance, on reflection, he wove 
into a volume of prophecy, a sure presage of his re-elec- 
tion. His mind then instantly travelled back to the 
autumn of 1860 ; and the vanished wraith the ghostly 
face in the mirror, mocking its healthy and hopeful 
fellow told him plainly that although certain of re-elec- 
tion to the exalted office he then held, he would surely 
hear the fatal summons from the silent shore during his 
second term. With that firm conviction, which no 
philosophy could shake, Mr. Lincoln moved on through 
a maze of mighty events, calmly awaiting the inevitable 
hour of his fall by a murderous hand. 

How, it may be asked, could he make life tolerable, 



114 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

burdened as he was with that portentous horror which 
though visionary, and of trifling import in our eyes, was 
by his interpretation a premonition of impending doom ? 
I answer in a word : His sense of duty to his country; 
his belief that " the inevitable " is right ; and his innate 
and irrepressible humor. 

But the most startling incident in the life of Mr. Lin- 
coln was a dream he had only a few days before his 
assassination. To him it was a thing of deadly import, 
and certainly no vision was ever fashioned more exactly 
like a dread reality. Coupled with other dreams, with 
the mirror-scene and with other incidents, there was some- 
thing about it so amazingly real, so true to the actual 
tragedy which occurred soon after, that more than mortal 
strength and wisdom would have been required to let it 
pass without a shudder or a pang. After worrying over 
it for some days, Mr. Lincoln seemed no longer able to 
keep the secret. I give it as nearly in his own words as 
I can, from notes which I made immediately after its 
recital. There were only two or three persons present. 
The President was in a melancholy, meditative mood, 
and had been silent for some time. Mrs. Lincoln, who 
was present, rallied him on his solemn visage and want 
of spirit. This seemed to arouse him, and without seem- 
ing to notice her sally he said, in slow and measured 
tones : 

"It seems strange how much there is in the Bible 
about dreams. There are, I think, some sixteen chap- 
ters in the Old Testament and four or five in the New 



DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 11$ 

in which dreams are mentioned ; and there are many 
other passages scattered throughout the book which refer 
to visions. If we believe the Bible, we must accept the 
fact that in the old days God and His angels came to 
men in their sleep and made themselves known in 
dreams. Nowadays dreams are regarded as very foolish, 
and are seldom told, except by old women and by young 
men and maidens in love." 

Mrs. Lincoln here remarked : " Why, you look dread- 
fully solemn ; do you believe in dreams? " 

" I can't say that I do," returned Mr. Lincoln ; " but I 
had one the other night which has haunted me ever 
since. After it occurred, the first time I opened the 
Bible, strange as it may appear, it was at the twenty- 
eighth chapter of Genesis, which relates the wonderful 
dream Jacob had. I turned to other passages, and 
seemed to encounter a dream or a vision wherever I 
looked. I kept on turning the leaves of the old book, 
and everywhere my eye fell upon passages recording 
matters strangely in keeping with my own thoughts, 
supernatural visitations, dreams, visions, etc." 

He now looked so serious and disturbed that Mrs. 
Lincoln exclaimed : " You frighten me ! What is the 
matter?" 

" I am afraid," said Mr. Lincoln, observing the effect 
his words had upon his wife, " that I have done wrong 
to mention the subject at all ; but somehow the thing 
has got possession of me, and, like Banquo's ghost, it 
will not down." 



Il6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

This only inflamed Mrs. Lincoln's curiosity the more, 
and while bravely disclaiming any belief in dreams, she 
strongly urged him to tell the dream which seemed to 
have such a hold upon him, being seconded in this by 
another listener. Mr. Lincoln hesitated, but at length 
commenced very deliberately, his brow overcast with a 
shade of melancholy. 

" About ten days ago," said he, " I retired very late. 
1 had been up waiting for important dispatches from the 
front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell 
into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. 
There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. 
Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people 
were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered 
downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same 
pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went 
from room to room ; no living person was in sight, but 
the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed 
along. It was light in all the rooms ; every object was 
familiar to me ; but where were all the people who were 
grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled 
and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? 
Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mys- 
terious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the 
East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sick- 
ening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which 
rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around 
it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards ; 
and there was a throng of people, some gazing mourn- 



DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. \\f 

fully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others 
weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' 
I demanded of one of the soldiers. ' The President,' was 
his answer ; ' he was killed by an assassin ! ' Then came 
a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which awoke me 
from my dream. I slept no more that night ; and al- 
though it was only a dream, I have been strangely 
annoyed by it ever since." 

" That is horrid ! " said Mrs. Lincoln. " I wish you 
had not told it. I am glad I don't believe in dreams, 
or I should be in terror from this time forth." 

"Well," responded Mr. Lincoln, thoughtfully, "it is 
only a dream, Mary. Let us say no more about it, and 
try to forget it." 

This dream was so horrible, so real, and so in keeping 
with other dreams and threatening presentiments of his, 
that Mr. Lincoln was profoundly disturbed by it. During 
its recital he was grave, gloomy, and at times visibly pale, 
but perfectly calm. He spoke slowly, with measured 
accents and deep feeling. In conversations with me he 
referred to it afterward, closing one with this quotation 
from " Hamlet " : "To sleep ; perchance to dream ! ay, 
there's the rub .' " with a strong accent on the last three 
words. 

Once the President alluded to this terrible dream 
with some show of playful humor. " Hill," said he, 
"your apprehension of harm to me from some hidden 
enemy is downright foolishness. For a long time you 
have been trying to keep somebody the Lord knows 



IlS RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

who from killing me. Don't you see how it will turn 
out? In this dream it was not me, but some other 
fellow, that was killed. It seems that this ghostly 
assassin tried his hand on some one else. And this 
reminds me of an old farmer in Illinois whose family 
were made sick by eating greens. Some poisonous herb 
had got into the mess, and members of the family were 
in danger of dying. There was a half-witted boy in the 
family called Jake ; and always afterward when they had 
greens the old man would say, ' Now, afore we risk these 
greens, let's try 'em on Jake. If he stands 'em, we 're 
all right.' Just so with me. As long as this imaginary 
assassin continues to exercise himself on others / can 
stand it." He then became serious and said: "Well, 
let it go. I think the Lord in His own good time 
and way will work this out all right. God knows what 
is best." 

These words he spoke with a sigh, and rather in a 
tone of soliloquy, as if hardly noting my presence. 

Mr. Lincoln had another remarkable dream, which 
was repeated so frequently during his occupancy of the 
White House that he came to regard it as a welcome 
visitor. It was of a pleasing and promising character, 
having nothing in it of the horrible. It was always an 
omen of a Union victory, and came with unerring cer- 
tainty just before every military or naval engagement 
where our arms were crowned with success. In this 
dream he saw a ship sailing away rapidly, badly damaged, 
and our victorious vessels in close pursuit. He saw, 



DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 119 

also, the close of a battle on land, the enemy routed, 
and our forces in possession of vantage ground of 
incalculable importance. Mr. Lincoln stated it as a 
fact that he had this dream just before the battles of 
Antietam, Gettysburg, and other signal engagements 
throughout the war. 

The last time Mr. Lincoln had this dream was the 
night before his assassination. On the morning of that 
lamentable day there was a Cabinet meeting at which 
General Grant was present. During an interval of gen- 
eral discussion, the President asked General Grant if he 
had any news from General Sherman, who was then 
confronting Johnston. The reply was in the negative, 
but the general added that he was in hourly expectation 
of a dispatch announcing Johnston's surrender. Mr. 
Lincoln then with great impressiveness said : " We shall 
hear very soon, and the news will be important." Gen- 
eral Grant asked him why he thought so. " Because," 
said Mr. Lincoln, " I had a dream last night ; and ever 
since this war began I have had the same dream just 
before every event of great national importance. It 
portends some important event that will happen very 
soon." 

After this Mr. Lincoln became unusually cheerful. 
In the afternoon he ordered a carriage for a drive. Mrs. 
Lincoln asked him if he wished any one to accompany 
them. " No, Mary," said he, " I prefer that we ride by 
ourselves to-day." 

Mrs. Lincoln said afterwards that she never saw him 



I2O RECOLLECTION'S OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN'. 

look happier than he did during that drive. In reply 
to a remark of hers to that effect, Mr. Lincoln said : 
" And well may I feel so, Mary ; for I consider that 
this day the war has come to a close. Now, we must 
try to be more cheerful in the future ; for between this 
terrible war and the loss of our darling son we have 
suffered much misery. Let us both try to be happy." 

On the night of the fatal i4th of April, 1865, when 
the President was assassinated, Mrs. Lincoln's first ex- 
clamation was, "His dream was prophetic." 

History will record no censure against Mr. Lincoln 
for believing, like the first Napoleon, that he was a man 
of destiny ; for such he surely was, if the term is at all 
admissible in a philosophic sense. And our estimate 
of his greatness must be heightened by conceding the 
fact that he was a believer in certain phases of the 
supernatural. Assured as he undoubtedly was by omens 
which to his mind were conclusive that he would rise 
to greatness and power, he was as firmly convinced by 
the same tokens that he would be suddenly cut off at 
the height of his career and the fulness of his fame. He 
always believed that he would fall by the hand of an 
assassin; and yet with that appalling doom clouding 
his life, a doom fixed and irreversible, as he was 
firmly convinced, his courage never for a moment 
forsook him, even in the most trying emergencies. Can 
greatness, courage, constancy in the pursuit of exalted 
aims, be tried by a severer test? He believed with 
Tennyson that 



DREAMS AND PRESENTIMENTS. 121 

" Because right is right, to follow right 
Were wisdom in the scorn of consequence." 

Concerning presentiments and dreams Mr. Lincoln 
had a philosophy of his own, which, strange as it may 
appear, was in perfect harmony with his character in all 
other respects. He was no dabbler in divination, 
astrology, horoscopy, prophecy, ghostly lore, or witch- 
eries of any sort. With Goethe, he held that " Nature 
cannot but do right eternally." Dreams and presenti- 
ments, in his judgment, are not of supernatural origin ; 
that is, they proceed in natural order, their essence 
being preternatural, but not above Nature. The mov- 
ing power of dreams and visions of an extraordinary 
character he ascribed, as did the Patriarchs of old, to 
the Almighty Intelligence that governs the universe, 
their processes conforming strictly to natural laws. 
" Nature," said he, " is the workmanship of the Almighty ; 
and we form but links in the general chain of intellectual 
and material life." 

Mr. Lincoln had this further idea. Dreams being 
natural occurrences, in the strictest sense, he held that 
their best interpreters are the common people ; and this 
accounts in large measure for the profound respect he 
always had for the collective wisdom of plain people, 
" the children of Nature," he called them, touching 
matters belonging to the domain of psychical mysteries. 
There was some basis of truth, he believed, for whatever 
obtained general credence among these " children of 
Nature ; " and as he esteemed himself one of their 



122 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

number, having passed the greater part of his life among 
them, we can easily account for the strength of his 
convictions on matters about which they and he were in 
cordial agreement. 

The natural bent of Mr. Lincoln's mind, aided by 
early associations, inclined him to read books which 
tended to strengthen his early convictions on occult 
subjects. Byron's " Dream " was a favorite poem, and 
I have often heard him repeat the following lines : 

" Sleep hath its own world, 
A boundary between the things misnamed 
Death and existence : Sleep hath its own world 
And a wide realm of wild reality. 
And dreams in their development have breath, 
And tears and tortures, and the touch of joy; 
They leave a weight upon our waking thoughts, 
They take a weight from off our waking toils, 
They do divide our being." 

He seemed strangely fascinated by the wonderful 
in history, such as the fall of Geta by the hand of 
Caracalla, as foretold by Severus; the ghosts of Cara- 
calla's father and murdered brother threatening and up- 
braiding him ; and kindred passages- It is useless 
further to pursue this account of Mr. Lincoln's peculiar 
views concerning these interesting mysteries. Enough 
has been said to show that the more intense the light 
which is poured upon what may be regarded as Mr. 
Lincoln's weakest points, the greater and grander will 
his character appear. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 

NO one knew better than Mr. Lincoln that genuine 
humor is " a plaster that heals many a wound ; " 
and certainly no man ever had a larger stock of that 
healing balm or knew better how to use it. His old 
friend I. N. Arnold once remarked that Lincoln's laugh 
had been his " life-preserver." Wit, with that illustrious 
man, was a jewel whose mirth-moving flashes he could 
no more repress than the diamond can extinguish its 
own brilliancy. In no sense was he vain of his superb 
ability as a wit and story-teller. 

Noah Brooks says in an article written for Harper's 
Monthly, three months after Mr. Lincoln's death, that 
the President once said, that, as near as he could reckon, 
about one sixth only of the stories credited to him were 
old acquaintances, all the others were the productions 
of other and better story-tellers than himself. " I 
remember," said he, "a good story when I hear it; but 
I never invented anything original. I am only a retail- 
dealer." No man was readier than he to acknowledge 
the force of Shakespeare's famous lines, 

" A jest's prosperity lies in the ear 
Of him that hears it; never in the tongue 
Of him that makes it." 



124 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Mr. Lincoln's stories were generally told with a well- 
defined purpose, to cheer the drooping spirits of a 
friend ; to lighten the weight of his own melancholy, 
" a pinch, as it were, of mental snuff," to clinch an 
argument, to expose a fallacy, or to disarm an antag- 
onist ; but most frequently he employed them simply as 
" labor-saving contrivances." He believed, with the 
great Ulysses of old, that there is naught " so tedious as 
a twice-told tale ; " and during my long and intimate 
acquaintance with Mr. Lincoln I seldom heard him 
relate a story the second time. The most trifling cir- 
cumstances, or even a word, was enough to remind him 
of a story, the aptness of which no one could fail to see. 
He cared little about high-flown words, fine phrases, 
or merely ornamental diction ; and yet, for one wholly 
without scholastic training, he was master of a style 
which was remarkable for purity, terseness, vigor, and 
force. As Antenor said of the Grecian king, " he spoke 
no more than just the thing he thought ; " and that 
thought he clothed in the simplest garb, often sacrificing 
the elegant and poetic for the homely and prosaic in 
the structure of his sentences. 

In one of his messages to Congress Mr. Lincoln used 
the term " sugar-coated." When the document was 
placed in the hands of the public printer, Hon. John D. 
Defrees, that officer was terribly shocked and offended. 
Mr. Defrees was an accomplished scholar, a man of 
fastidious taste, and a devoted friend of the President, 
with whom he was on terms of great intimacy. It would 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 12$ 

never do to leave the forbidden term in the message ; 
it must be expunged, otherwise it would forever re- 
main a ruinous blot on the fair fame of the President. 
In great distress and mortification the good Defrees 
hurried away to the White House, where he told Mr. 
Lincoln plainly that " sugar-coated " was not in good 
taste. 

"You ought to remember, Mr. President," said he, 
" that a message to the Congress of the United States is 
quite a different thing from a speech before a mass 
meeting in Illinois ; that such messages become a part 
of the history of the country, and should therefore be 
written with scrupulous care and propriety. Such an 
expression in a State paper is undignified, and if I were 
you I would alter the structure of the whole sentence." 

Mr. Lincoln laughed, and then said with a comical 
show of gravity : " John, that term expresses precisely 
my idea, and I am not going to change it. ' Sugar- 
coated ' must stand ! The time will never come in this 
country when the people will not understand exactly 
what 'sugar-coated' means." 

Mr. Defrees was obliged to yield, and the message was 
printed without amendment. 

One day at a critical stage of the war, Mr. Lincoln 
sat in his office in deep meditation. Being suddenly 
aroused, he said to a gentleman whose presence he had 
not until that moment observed : " Do you know that I 

think General is a philosopher? He has proved 

himself a really great man. He has grappled with and 



126 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

mastered that ancient and wise admonition, ' Know thy- 
self; ' he has formed an intimate acquaintance with him- 
self, knows as well for what he is fitted and unfitted as 
any man living. Without doubt he is a remarkable man. 
This war has not produced another like him." 

"Why is it, Mr. President," asked his friend, "that 

you are now so highly pleased with General ? 

Has your mind not undergone a change?" 

" Because," replied Mr. Lincoln, with a merry twinkle 
of the eye, "greatly to my relief, and to the interests 
of the country, he has resigned. And now I hope some 
other dress-parade commanders will study the good 
old admonition, ' Know thyself,' and follow his example." 

On the 3d of February, 1865, during the so-called 
Peace Conference at Hampton Roads between Mr. 
Lincoln and Mr. Seward on the one side and the Messrs. 
Stephens, Campbell, and Hunter on the other, Mr. 
Hunter remarked that the recognition of the Confed- 
erate government by President Lincoln was indispen- 
sable as the first step towards peace ; and he made 
an ingenious argument in support of his proposition, 
citing as a precedent for the guidance of constitutional 
rulers in dealing with insurgents the case of Charles I. 
and his rebel Parliament. This reference to King 
Charles as a model for imitation by a President of the 
United States was a little unfortunate, but Mr. Lincoln 
was more amused than offended by it. Turning to Mr. 
Hunter he said : " On the question of history I must 
refer you to Mr. Seward, who is posted in such matters. 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 12 J 

I don't pretend to be ; but I have a tolerably distinct 
recollection, in the case you refer to, that Charles lost 
his head, and I have no head to spare." 

Mr. Hunter, during the same conference, in speaking 
of emancipation, remarked that the slaves had always 
been accustomed to work on compulsion, under an 
overseer ; and he apprehended they would, if suddenly 
set free, precipitate themselves and the whole social 
fabric of the South into irretrievable ruin. In that case 
neither the whites nor the blacks would work. They 
would all starve together. To this Mr. Lincoln replied : 
"Mr. Hunter, you ought to know a great deal more 
about this matter than I do, for you have always lived 
under the slave system. But the way you state the case 
reminds me of an Illinois farmer who was not over-fond 
of work, but was an adept in shirking. To this end 
he conceived a brilliant scheme of hog culture. Having 
a good farm, he bought a large herd of swine. He 
planted an immense field in potatoes, with the view of 
turning the whole herd into it late in the fall, supposing 
they would be able to provide for themselves during 
the winter. One day his scheme was discussed between 
himself and a neighbor, who asked him how the thing 
would work when the ground was frozen one or two 
feet deep. He had not thought of that contingency, 
and seemed perplexed over it. At length he answered : 
' Well, it will be a leetle hard on their snouts, I reckon ; 
but them shoats will have to root, hog, or die.' And 
so," concluded Mr. Lincoln, " in the dire contingency 



128 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

you name, whites and black alike will have to look out 
for themselves; and I have an abiding faith that they 
will go about it in a fashion that will undeceive you in a 
very agreeable way." 

During the same conference, in response to certain 
remarks by the Confederate commissioners requiring 
explicit contradiction, Mr. Lincoln animadverted with 
some severity upon the conduct of the rebel leaders, 
and closed with the statement that they had plainly 
forfeited all right to immunity from punishment for the 
highest crime known to the law. Being positive and 
unequivocal in stating his views concerning individual 
treason, his words seemed to fall upon the commissioners 
with ominous import. There was a pause, during which 
Mr. Hunter regarded the speaker with a steady, search- 
ing look. At length, carefully measuring his own words, 
Mr. Hunter said : " Then, Mr. President, if we under- 
stand you correctly, you think that we of the Confed- 
eracy have committed treason ; that we are traitors to 
your government ; that we have forfeited our rights, and 
are proper subjects for the hangman. Is not that about 
what your words imply?" 

" Yes," said Mr. Lincoln, " you have stated the propo- 
sition better than I did. That is about the size of it ! " 

There was another pause, and a painful one, after 
which Mr. Hunter, with a pleasant smile, replied : " Well, 
Mr. Lincoln, we have about concluded that we shall 
not be hanged as long as you are President if we 
behave ourselves." 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 12$ 

There is here as high a compliment as could have been 
paid to Mr. Lincoln, a trust in his magnanimity and 
goodness of heart. From the gentleness of his char- 
acter, such were the sentiments he inspired even among 
his enemies, that he was incapable of inflicting -pain, 
punishment, or injury if it could possibly be avoided; 
that he was always resolutely merciful and forbearing. 

On his return to Washington after this conference, 
Mr. Lincoln recounted the pleasure he had had in 
meeting Alexander H. Stephens, who was an invalid all 
his life ; and in commenting upon his attenuated appear- 
ance as he looked after emerging from layers of over- 
coats and comforters, Mr. Lincoln said, "Was there ever 
such a nubbin after so much shucking? " 

At one time when very lively scenes were being 
enacted in West Virginia, a Union general allowed him- 
self and his command to be drawn into a dangerous 
position, from which it was feared he would be unable to 
extricate himself without the loss of his whole command. 
In speaking of this fiasco, Mr. Lincoln said : " General 

reminds me of a man out West who was engaged 

in what they call heading a barrel. He worked diligently 
for a time driving down the hoops ; but when the job 
seemed completed, the head would fall in, and he would 
have to do the work all over again. Suddenly, after a 
deal of annoyance, a bright idea struck him. He put 
his boy, a chunk of a lad, into the barrel to hold up the 
head while he pounded down the hoops. This worked 
like a charm. The job was completed before he once 

9 



I3O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

thought about how he was to get the little fellow out 
again. Now," said Mr. Lincoln, "that is a fair sample 
of the way some people do business. They can succeed 
better in getting themselves and others corked up than 
in getting uncorked." 

During the year 1861 it was difficult to preserve 
peace and good order in the city of Washington. 
Riots and disturbances were occurring daily, and some 
of them were of a serious and sometimes dangerous 
nature. The authorities were in constant apprehension, 
owing to the disloyal sentiment prevailing, that a riot 
might occur of such magnitude as to endanger the safety 
of the capital ; and this necessitated the utmost vigilance 
on their part to preserve order. 

On one occasion, when the fears of the loyal element 
of the city were excited to fever-heat, a free fight near 
the old National Theatre occurred about eleven o'clock 
one night. An officer in passing the place observed 
what was going on ; and seeing the great number of 
persons engaged, he felt it to be his duty to command 
the peace. The imperative tone of his voice stopped 
the fighting for a moment ; but the leader, a great bully, 
roughly pushed back the officer, and told him to go 
away, or he would whip him. The officer again advanced 
and said, " I arrest you," attempting to place his hand 
on the man's shoulder, when the bully struck a fearful 
blow at the officer's face. This was parried, and instantly 
followed by a blow from the fist of the officer, striking 
the fellow under the chin and knocking him senseless. 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 131 

Blood issued from his mouth, nose, and ears. It was 
believed that the man's neck was broken. A surgeon 
was called, who pronounced the case a critical one, and 
the wounded man was hurried away on a litter to the 
hospital. There the physicians said there was concus- 
sion of the brain, and that the man would die. All 
medical skill that the officer could procure was employed 
in the hope of saving the life of the man. His con- 
science smote him for having, as he believed, taken the 
life of a fellow-creature, and he was inconsolable. 

Being on terms of intimacy with the President, about 
two o'clock that night the officer went to the White 
House, woke up Mr. Lincoln, and requested him to 
come into his office, where he told him his story. Mr. 
Lincoln listened with great interest until the narrative 
was completed, and then asked a few questions ; after 
which he remarked : " I am sorry you had to kill the 
man ; but these are times of war, and a great many men 
deserve killing. This one, according to your story, is 
one of them ; so give yourself no uneasiness about the 
matter. I will stand by you." 

" That is not why I came to you. I knew I did my 
duty, and had no fears of your disapproval of what I 
did," replied the officer; and then he added: "Why I 
came to you was, I felt great grief over the unfortunate 
affair, and I wanted to talk to you about it." 

Mr. Lincoln then said, with a smile, placing his hand 
on the officer's shoulder : " You go home now and get 
some sleep ; but let me give you this piece of advice, 



132 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

hereafter, when you have occasion to strike a man, don't 
hit him with your fist ; strike him with a club, a crowbar, 
or with something that won't kill him." 

The officer then went home, but not to sleep. The 
occurrence had a great effect upon him, and was a real 
source of discomfort to his mind during the fourteen 
months the unfortunate invalid lived, and it left a sincere 
regret impressed upon him ever after ; but the concili- 
atory and kindly view prompted by Mr. Lincoln's tender 
heart, and his fidelity to friendship on that occasion, is 
to this day cherished in the officer's memory with a 
feeling of consecration. 

About the first time Mr. Lincoln contemplated leaving 
Washington, he was to attend some gathering of the 
people in Baltimore, Philadelphia, or New York. A 
committee waited upon him and urged his attendance 
on the occasion, saying that they were sure Mr. Garrett, 
the president of the only road then going east out of 
Washington, would take great pleasure in furnishing a 
special train of cars for him. "Well," said the President, 
" I have no doubt of that I know Mr. Garrett well, 
and like him very much ; but if I were to believe (which 
I don't) everything some people say of him about his 
' secesh ' principles, he might say to you as was said by 
the superintendent of a railroad to a son of one of my 
predecessors in office. Some two years after the death 
of President Harrison, the son of the incumbent of this 
office, contemplating an excursion for his father some- 
where or other, went to order a special train of cars. 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 133 

At that time politics were very bitter between the Whigs 
and the Democrats, and the railroad superintendent 
happened to be an uncompromising Whig. The son 
made known his demand, which was bluntly refused by 
the railroad official, saying that his road was not running 
special trains for the accommodation of Presidents just 
then. ' What ! ' said the young man, ' did you not fur- 
nish a special train for the funeral of General Harrison ? ' 
' Yes,' said the superintendent, very calmly ; ' and if you 
will only bring your father here in that shape you shall 
have the best train on the road.' But, gentlemen," con- 
tinued. Mr. Lincoln, "I have no doubts of Mr. Garrett's 
loyalty for the government or his respect for me 
personally, and I will take pleasure in going." 

General James B. Fry, the Provost-Marshal General 
during Mr. Lincoln's Administration, was designated by 
the Secretary of War as a special escort to accompany 
Mr. Lincoln to the field of Gettysburg upon the occasion 
of the anniversary of that battle. The general, on arriv- 
ing at the White House and finding the President late 
in his preparations for the trip, remarked to him that it 
was late, and there was little time to lose in getting to 
the train. "Well," said Mr. Lincoln, "I feel about that 
.is the convict did in Illinois, when he was going to the 
gallows. Passing along the road in custody of the sheriff, 
and seeing the people who were eager for the execution 
crowding and jostling one another past him, he at last 
called out, ' Boys ! you need n't be in such a hurry to get 
ahead, for there won't be any fun till I get there.' " 



134 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

General Fry also tells of a conversation between Mr. 
Lincoln and Mr. Stanton, in relation to the selection 
of brigadier-generals. Mr. Lincoln was heard to say : 
"Well, Mr. Secretary, I concur in pretty much all you 
say. The only point I make is, that there has got to 
be something done which will be unquestionably in the 
interest of the Dutch ; and to that end I want Schim- 
melpfennig appointed." The secretary replied : " Mr. 
President, perhaps this Schimrnel what 's-his-name 
is not as highly recommended as some other German 
officer." " No matter about that," said Mr. Lincoln ; 
"his name will make up for any difference there may 
be, and I '11 take the risk of his coming out all right." 
Then, with a laugh, he repeated, dwelling upon each 
syllable of the name and accenting the last one, 
" Schim-mel-pfen-Twjf must be appointed." 

Mr. Welles, in speaking of the complication into which 
Spain attempted to draw the government of the United 
States in regard to reclaiming her possessions in San 
Domingo, says that the pressure was great on both sides, 
and the question a grave and delicate one as to what po- 
sition we should take and what course pursue. On the 
one side Spain, whose favor we wished to conciliate, and 
on the other the appeal of the negroes against Spanish 
oppression. Mr. Sevvard detailed the embarrassments 
attending the negotiations to Mr. Lincoln, whose coun- 
tenance indicated that his mind was relieved before 
Mr. Seward had concluded. He remarked that the 
dilemma of the Secretary of State reminded him of an 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 135 

interview between two negroes in Tennessee ; one was a 
preacher, who, with the crude and strange notions of 
his ignorant race, was endeavoring to admonish and 
enlighten his brother African of the importance of 
religion and the danger of the future. " * Dar are,' said 
Josh the preacher, 'two roads befo' you, Joe; be careful 
which ob dem you take. Narrow am de way dat leads 
straight to destruction ; but broad am de way dat leads 
right to damnation.' Joe opened his eyes with affright, 
and under the inspired eloquence of the awful danger 
before him, exclaimed, 'Josh, take which road you 
please ; I shall go troo de woods.' I am not willing," 
said the President, " to assume any new troubles or re- 
sponsibilities at this time, and shall therefore avoid going 
to the one place with Spain or with the negro to the 
other, but shall take to the woods. We will maintain an 
honest and strict neutrality." 

When Attorney-General Bates resigned, late in 1864, 
after the resignation of Postmaster-General Blair in that 
year, the Cabinet was left without a Southern member. 
A few days before the meeting of the Supreme Court, 
which then met in December, Mr. Lincoln sent for 
Titian F. Coffey, and said : " My Cabinet has shrunk up 
North, and I must find a Southern man. I suppose if 
the twelve Apostles were to be chosen nowadays, the 
shrieks of locality would have to be heeded." 

Mr. Coffey acted as Attorney-General during the time 
intervening between the resignation of Mr. Bates and 
the appointment of Mr. Speed. He tells about a dele- 



136 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

gation that called on Mr. Lincoln to ask the appointment 
of a gentleman as commissioner to the Sandwich Islands. 
They presented their case as earnestly as possible ; and 
besides their candidate's fitness for the place they urged 
that he was in bad health, and that a residence in that 
balmy climate would be of great benefit to him. The 
President closed the interview with this discouraging 
remark : " Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that there are 
eight other applicants for that place, and they are all 
sicker than your man." 

In 1858 Mr. Lincoln was engaged at Bloomington, in 
a case of very great importance. The attorney on the 
other side was a young lawyer of fine abilities, who has 
since become a judge. He was a sensible and sensitive 
young man, and the loss of a case always gave him great 
pain, to avoid which he invariably manifested an 
unusual zeal, and made great preparation for the trial of 
his cases. This case of which I speak lasted till late at 
night, when it was submitted to the jury. In anticipa- 
tion of a favorable verdict, the young attorney spent a 
sleepless night in anxiety, and early next morning learned 
to his great chagrin that he had lost the case. Mr. Lin- 
coln met him at the court house some time after the jury 
had come in, and asked him what had become of his 
case. With lugubrious countenance and in a melan- 
choly tone the young man replied, " It 's gone to hell." 
"Oh, well," said Mr. Lincoln, "then you will see it 
again." 

Mr. Lincoln had shown great wisdom in appreciating 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 137 

the importance of holding such Democrats as Mr. Doug- 
las close to the Administration, on the issue of a united 
country or a dissolution of the Union. He said : " They 
are just where we Whigs were in 1848, about the Mexi- 
can war. We had to take the Locofoco preamble when 
Taylor wanted help, or else vote against helping Taylor ; 
and the Democrats must- vote to hold the Union now, 
without bothering whether we or the Southern men got 
things where they are ; and we must make it easy for 
them to do this, for we cannot live through the case 
without them." He further said : " Some of our friends 
are opposed to an accommodation because the South 
began the trouble and is entirely responsible for the con- 
sequences, be they what they may. This reminds me of 
a story told out in Illinois where I lived. There was a 
vicious bull in a pasture, and a neighbor passing through 
the field, the animal took after him. The man ran to a 
tree, and got there in time to save himself; and being 
able to run round the tree faster than the bull, he man- 
aged to seize him by the tail. His bullship seeing him- 
self at a disadvantage, pawed the earth and scattered 
gravel for awhile, then broke into a full run, bellowing at 
every jump, while the man, holding on to the tail, asked 
the question, ' Darn you, who commenced this fuss ? ' 
Now, our plain duty is to settle the fuss we have before 
us, without reference to who commenced it." 

Mr. Lincoln told another anecdote in connection with 
the probable adjustment of the difficulties. Said he : 
" Once on a time, a number of very pious gentlemen, all 



138 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

strict members of the church, were appointed to take in 
charge and superintend the erection of a bridge over a 
very dangerous and turbulent river. They found great 
difficulty in securing the services of an engineer compe- 
tent for the work. Finally, Brother Jones said that Mr. 
Meyers had built several bridges, and he had no doubt 
he could build this one. Mr. Meyers was sent for. The 
committee asked, 'Can you build this bridge?' 'Yes,' 
was the answer, ' I can build a bridge to the infernal 
regions, if necessary.' The committee was shocked, and 
Brother Jones felt called upon to say something in de- 
fence of his friend, and commenced by saying : ' Gentle- 
men, I know my friend Meyers so well, and he is so 
honest a man and so good an architect, that if he states 
positively that he can build a bridge to hell, why, I 
believe he can do it ; but I feel bound to say that I have 
my doubts about the abutment on the infernal side.' 
So," said Mr. Lincoln, " when the politicians told me 
that the Northern and Southern wings of the Democracy 
could be harmonized, why, I believed them of course ; 
but I had always my doubts about the abutment on the 
other side." 

Anthony J. Bleeker tells his experience in applying for 
a position under Mr. Lincoln. He was introduced by 
Mr. Preston King, and made his application verbally, 
handing the President his vouchers. The President 
requested him to read them, which he commenced to 
do. Before Mr. Bleeker had got half through with the 
documents, the President cried out, " Oh, stop ! you are 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 139 

like the man who killed the dog." Not feeling particu- 
larly flattered by the comparison, Mr. Bleeker inquired, 
"In what respect?" Mr. Lincoln replied, "He had a 
vicious animal which he determined to dispatch, and 
accordingly knocked out his brains with a club. He 
continued striking the dog until a friend stayed his hand, 
exclaiming, * You need n't strike him any more, the dog 
is dead ; you killed him at the first blow.' ' Oh, yes,' 
said he, ' I know that ; but I believe in punishment after 
death.' So, I see, you do." Mr. Bleeker acknowledged 
that it was possible to do too much sometimes, and he 
in his turn told an anecdote of a good priest who con- 
verted an Indian from heathenism to Christianity; the 
only difficulty he had with him was to get him to pray 
for his enemies. " The Indian had been taught by his 
father to overcome and destroy them. ' That,' said the 
priest, ' may be the Indian's creed, but it is not the doc- 
trine of Christianity or the Bible. Saint Paul distinctly 
says, " If thine enemy hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, 
give him drink." ' The Indian shook his head at this 
and seemed dejected, but when the priest added, * " For 
in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head," ' 
the poor convert was overcome with emotion, fell on his 
knees, and with outstretched hands and uplifted eyes 
invoked all sorts of blessings on his adversary's head, 
supplicating for pleasant hunting-grounds, a large supply 
of squaws, lots of papooses, and all other Indian com- 
forts, till the good priest interrupted him (as you did 
me) , exclaiming, ' Stop, my son ! You have discharged 



140 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

your Christian duty, and have done more than enough.' 
Oh, no, father," says the Indian, ' let me pray ! I want 
to burn him down to the stump ! ' " Mr. Bleeker got 
the position. 

" Mr. Lincoln," wrote one who knew him very well,* 
"was a good judge of men, and quickly learned the 
peculiar traits of character in those he had to deal with. 
He pointed out a marked trait in one of the Northern 
governors who was earnest, able, and untiring in keeping 
up the war spirit of his State, but was at times overbear- 
ing and exacting in his intercourse with the general 
government. Upon one occasion he complained and 
protested more bitterly than usual, and warned those in 
authority that the execution of their orders in his State 
would be beset by difficulties and dangers. The tone of 
his dispatches gave rise to an apprehension that he 
might not co-operate fully in the enterprise in hand. 
The Secretary of War, therefore, laid the dispatches 
before the President for advice or instructions. They 
did not disturb Mr. Lincoln in the least. In fact, they 
rather amused him. After reading all the papers, he 
said in a cheerful and reassuring tone : ' Never mind, 
those dispatches don't mean anything. Just go right 
ahead. The governor is like the boy I saw once at the 
launching of a ship. When everything was ready, they 
picked out a boy and sent him under the ship to knock 
away the trigger and let her go. At the critical moment 
everything depended on the boy. He had to do the job 

* General Fry, in the New York " Tribune." 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 141 

well by a direct, vigorous blow, and then lie flat and 
keep still while the ship slid over him. The boy did 
everything right ; but he yelled as if he were being mur- 
dered, from the time he got under the keel until he got 
out. I thought the skin was all scraped off his back ; 
but he was n't hurt at all. The master of the yard told 
me that this boy was always chosen for that job, that he 
did his work well, that he never had been hurt, but that 
he always squealed in that way. That 's just the way 

with Governor . Make up your minds that he is 

not hurt, and that he is doing his work right, and pay 
no attention to his squealing. He only wants to make 
you understand how hard his task is, and that he is on 
hand performing it.' " 

Time proved that the President's estimation of the 
governor was correct. 

Upon another occasion a Governor went to the office 
of the Adjutant-General bristling with complaints. The 
Adjutant, finding it impossible to satisfy his demands, 
accompanied him to the Secretary of War's office, whence, 
after a stormy interview with Secretary Stanton he went 
alone to see the President. The Adjutant-General ex- 
pected important orders from the President or a sum- 
mons to the White House for explanation. After some 
hours the Governor returned and said with a pleasant 
smile that he was going home by the next train and 
merely dropped in to say good-bye, making no allusion to 
the business upon which he came nor his interview with 
the President. As soon as the Adjutant-General could 



142 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

see Mr. Lincoln he told him he was very anxious to learn 

how he disposed of Governor , as he had started to 

see him in a towering rage, and said he supposed it was 
necessary to make large concessions to him as he seemed 
after leaving the President to be entirely satisfied. " O, 
no," replied Mr. Lincoln, " I did not concede anything. 
You know how that Illinois farmer managed the big log 
that lay in the middle of his field? To the inquiries of 
his neighbors one Sunday he announced that he had got 
rid of the big log. ' Got rid of it ! ' said they. ' How 
did you do it ? It was too big to haul out, too knotty to 
split, and too wet and soggy to burn. What did you 
do?' 'Well, now, boys,' replied the farmer, 'if you 
won't divulge the secret, I '11 tell you how I got rid of it. 
I plowed around it.' Now," said Lincoln, "don't tell 

anybody, but that is the way I got rid of Governor , 

I plowed around him, but it took me three mortal hours 
to do it, and I was afraid every minute he would see 
what I was at." 

Mr. Lincoln enjoyed telling of the youth who emi- 
grated to the West and wrote back East to his father who 
was something of a politician : " Dear Dad, I have 

settled at and like it first rate. Do come out here, 

for almighty mean men get office here." 

Thurlow Weed tells of breakfasting with Lincoln and 
Judge Davis while in Springfield in December prior to 
Mr. Lincoln's first inauguration. Judge Davis remarked 
Mr. Weed's fondness for sausage and said, " You seem 
fond of our Chicago sausages." To which Mr. Weed 



HUMOROUS SIDE OF HIS CHARACTER. 143 

responded that he was, and thought the article might be 
relied on where pork was cheaper than dogs. " That," 
said Mr. Lincoln, " reminds me of what occurred down in 
Joliet, where a popular grocer supplied all the villagers 
with sausages. One Saturday evening, when his grocery 
was filled with customers, for whom he and his boys 
were busily engaged in weighing sausages, a neighbor 
with whom he had had a violent quarrel that day came 
into the grocery, made his way up to the counter, hold- 
ing two enormous dead cats by the tail, which he delib- 
erately threw onto the counter saying, " This makes seven 
to-day. I '11 call round Monday and get my money 
for them." 

Mr. Lincoln read men and women quickly, and was so 
keen a judge of their peculiarities that none escaped his 
observation. 

Once a very attractive woman consumed a good deal 
of Mr. Lincoln's time. He finally dismissed her with a 
card directed to Secretary Stanton on which he had 
written : " This woman, dear Stanton, is a little smarter 
than she looks to be." 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. LINCOLN'S LOVE OF SONG. 

IN the autumn of 1862 I chanced to be associated with 
Mr. Lincoln in a transaction which, though innocent 
and commonplace in itself, was blown by rumor and 
surmise into a revolting and deplorable scandal. A con- 
jectural lie, although mean, misshapen, and very small 
at its birth, grew at length into a tempest of defamation, 
whose last echoes were not heard until its noble victim 
had yielded his life to a form of assassination only a 
trifle more deadly. 

Mr. Lincoln was painted as the prime mover in a 
scene of fiendish levity more atrocious than the world 
had ever witnessed since human nature was shamed and 
degraded by the capers of Nero and Commodus. I 
refer to what is known as the Antietam song-singing; 
and I propose to show that the popular construction 
put upon that incident was wholly destitute of truth. 

Mr. Lincoln persistently declined to read the harsh 
comments of the newspaper press and the fierce mouth- 
ings of platform orators ; and under his advice I as 
persistently refused to make any public statement con- 
cerning that ill-judged affair. He believed with Sir 
Walter Scott, that, if a cause of action is good, it needs 



THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 145 

no vindication from the actor's motives ; if bad, it can 
derive none. When I suggested to him that the slander 
ought to be refuted, that a word from him would 
silence his defamers, Mr. Lincoln replied with great 
earnestness : " No, Hill ; there has already been too 
much said about this falsehood. Let the thing alone. 
If I have not established character enough to give the 
lie to this charge, I can only say that I am mistaken in 
my own estimate of myself. In politics, every man 
must skin his own skunk. These fellows are welcome 
to the hide of this one. Its body has already given 
forth its unsavory odor." 

The newspapers and the stump-speakers went on 
" stuffing the ears of men with false reports " until the 
fall of 1864, when I showed to Mr. Lincoln a letter, of 
which the following is a copy. It is a fair sample of 
hundreds of letters received by me about that time, 
the Antietam incident being then discussed with in- 
creased virulence and new accessions of false coloring. 

PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 10, 1864. 
WARD H. LAMON : 

Dear Sir, Enclosed is an extract from the New York 
" World " of Sept. 9, 1864 : 

"ONE OF MR. LINCOLN'S JOKES. The second verse of 
our campaign song published on this page was probably 
suggested by an incident which occurred on the battle-field of 
Antietam a few days after the fight. While the President 
was driving over the field in an ambulance, accompanied by 
Marshal Lamon, General McClellan, and another officer, 
heavy details of men were engaged in the task of burying 

10 



146 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

the dead. The ambulance had just reached the neighbor- 
hood of the old stone bridge, where the dead were piled 
highest, when Mr. Lincoln, suddenly slapping Marshal Lamon 
on the knee, exclaimed : ' Come, Lamon, give us that song 
about Picayune Butler ; McClellan has never heard it.' 
' Not now, if you please,' said General McClellan, with a 
shudder ; ' I would prefer to hear it some other place and 
time.'" 

This story has been repeated in the New York " World " 
almost daily for the last three months. Until now it would 
have been useless to demand its authority. By this article 
it limits the inquiry to three persons as its authority, 
Marshal Lamon, another officer, and General McClellan. 
That it is a damaging story, if believed, cannot be disputed. 
That it is believed by some, or that they pretend to believe 
it, is evident by the accompanying verse from the doggerel, 
in which allusion is made to it : 

" Abe may crack his jolly jokes 
O'er bloody fields of stricken battle, 
While yet the ebbing life-tide smokes 
From men that die like butchered cattle ; 
He, ere yet the guns grow cold, 
To pimps and pets may crack his stories,' etc. 

I wish to ask you, sir, in behalf of others as well as 
myself, whether any such occurrence took place ; or if it did 
not take place, please to state who that "other officer " was, 
if there was any such, in the ambulance in which the Presi- 
dent " was driving over the field [ of Antietam ] whilst 
details of men were engaged in the task of burying the 
dead." You will confer a great favor by an immediate reply. 
Most respectfully your obedient servant, 

A. J. PERKINS. 

Along with the above I submitted to Mr. Lincoln 
my own draft of what I conceived to be a suitable 



THE ANT1ETAM EPISODE. 147 

reply. The brutal directness and falsity of the " World's " 
charge, and the still more brutal and insulting character 
of the doggerel with which it was garnished, impelled 
me to season my reply to Mr. Perkins's letter with a 
large infusion of " vinegar and gall." After carefully 
reading both letters, Mr. Lincoln shook his head. " No, 
Lamon," said he, "I would not publish this reply; it 
is too belligerent in tone for so grave a matter. There is 
a heap of ' cussedness ' mixed up with your usual amia- 
bility, and you are at times too fond of a fight. If I 
were you, I would simply state the facts as they were. 
I would give the statement as you have here, without the 
pepper and salt. Let me try my hand at it." He then 
took up a pen and wrote the following. It was to be 
copied by me and forwarded to Mr. Perkins as my refuta- 
tion of the slander. 

"The President has known me intimately for nearly twenty 
years, and has often heard me sing little ditties. The battle 
of Antietam was fought on the I7th day of September, 1862. 
On the first day of October, just two weeks after the battle, 
the President, with some others including myself, started from 
Washington to visit the Army, reaching Harper's Ferry at 
noon of that day. In a short while General McClellan came 
from his headquarters near the battle-ground, joined the 
President, and with him reviewed the troops at Bolivar 
Heights that afternoon, and at night returned to his head- 
quarters, leaving the President at Harper's Ferry. On the 
morning of the second the President, with General Sumner, 
reviewed the troops respectively at Loudon Heights and 
Maryland Heights, and at about noon started to General 
McClellan's headquarters, reaching there only in time to see 



148 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

very little before night. On the morning of the third all 
started on a review of the third corps and the cavalry, in 
the vicinity of the Antietam battle-ground. After getting 
through with General Burnside's corps, at the suggestion of 
General McClellan he and the President left their horses to 
be led, and went into an ambulance or ambulances to go to 
General Fitz John Porter's corps, which was two or three 
miles distant. I am not sure whether the President and 
General McClellan were in the same ambulance, or in differ- 
ent ones ; but myself and some others were in the same with 
the President. On the way, and on no part of the battle- 
ground, and on what suggestions I do not remember, the 
President asked me to sing the little sad song that follows, 
which he had often heard me sing, and had always seemed 
to like very much. I sang it. After it was over, some 
one of the party (I do not think it was the President) asked 
me to sing something else ; and I sang two or three little 
comic things, of which 'Picayune Butler' was one. Porter's 
corps was reached and reviewed; then the battle-ground was 
passed over, and the most noted parts examined ; then, in 
succession, the cavalry and Franklin's corps were reviewed, 
and the President and party returned to General McClellan's 
headquarters at the end of a very hard, hot, and dusty day's 
work. Next day, the 4th, the President and General McClel- 
lan visited such of the wounded as still remained in the 
vicinity, including the now lamented General Richardson; 
then proceeded to and examined the South-Mountain battle- 
ground, at which point they parted, General McClellan 
returning to his camp, and the President returning to Wash- 
ington, seeing, on the way, General Hartsoff, who lay 
wounded at Frederick Town. 

"This is the whole story of the singing and its surround- 
ings. Neither General McClellan nor any one else made 
any objections to the singing ; the place was not on the battle- 
field ; the time was sixteen days after the battle ; no dead 



THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 149 

body was seen during the whole time the President was ab- 
sent from Washington, nor even a grave that had not been 
rained on since it was made." 

This perfectly truthful statement was written by Mr. 
Lincoln about the i2th of September, 1864, less than 
two years after the occurrence of the events therein 
described. It was done slowly, and with great delibera- 
tion and care. The statement, however, was never 
made public. Mr. Lincoln said to me : " You know, 
Hill, that this is the truth and the whole truth about that 
affair ; but I dislike to appear as an apologist for an act 
of my own which I know was right. Keep this paper, 
and we will see about it." The momentous and all-en- 
grossing events of the war caused the Antietam episode 
to be forgotten by the President for a time ; the state- 
ment was not given to the press, but has remained in 
my possession until this day. 

Mark how simple the explanation is ! Mr. Lincoln 
did not ask me to sing "Picayune Butler." No song 
was sung on the battle-field. The singing occurred on 
the way from Burnside's corps to Fitz John Porter's 
corps, some distance from the battle-ground, and six- 
teen days after the battle. Moreover, Mr. Lincoln had 
said to me, " Lamon, sing one of your little sad songs," 
and thereby hangs a tale which is well worth the tell- 
ing, as it illustrates a striking phase of Mr. Lincoln's 
character which has never been fully revealed. 

I knew well what Mr. Lincoln meant by " the little 
sad songs." The sentiment that prompted him to call 



150 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

for such a song had its history, and one of deep and 
touching interest to me. One " little sad song " a 
simple ballad entitled "Twenty Years Ago" was, 
above all others, his favorite. He had no special fond- 
ness for operatic music; he loved simple ballads and 
ditties, such as the common people sing, whether of the 
comic or pathetic kind ; but no one in the list touched 
his great heart as did the song of "Twenty Years Ago." 
Many a time, in the old days of our familiar friendship 
on the Illinois circuit, and often at the White House 
when he and I were alone, have I seen him in tears 
while I was rendering, in my poor way, that homely 
melody. The late Judge David Davis, the Hon. Leonard 
Swett, and Judge Corydon Beckwith were equally partial 
to the same ballad. Often have I seen those great men 
overcome by the peculiar charm they seemed to find in 
the sentiment and melody of that simple song. The 
following verses seemed to affect Mr. Lincoln more 
deeply than any of the others : 

" I 've wandered to the village, Tom ; I 've sat beneath the tree 
Upon the schoolhouse play-ground, that sheltered you and me: 
But none were left to greet me, Tom, and few were left to know 
Who played with us upon the green, some twenty years ago. 

" Near by the spring, upon the elm you know I cut your name, 
Your sweetheart's just beneath it, Tom; and you did mine the 

same. 
Some heartless wretch has peeled the bark, 't was dying sure 

but slow, 
Just as she died whose name you cut, some twenty years ago. 

" My lids have long been dry, Tom, but tears came to my eyes ; 
I thought of her I loved so well, those early broken ties: 
I visited the old churchyard, and took some flowers to strew 
Upon the graves of these we loved, some twenty years ago." 



THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 151 

This is the song Mr. Lincoln called for, and the one I 
sang to him in the vicinity of Antietam. He was at the 
time weary and sad. As I well knew it would, the song 
only deepened his sadness. I then did what I had done 
many times before : I startled him from his melancholy 
by striking up a comic air, singing also a snatch from 
"Picayune Butler," which broke the spell of " the little 
sad song," and restored somewhat his accustomed easy 
humor. It was not the first time I had pushed hilarity 
simulated though it was to an extreme for his sake. 
I had often recalled him from a pit of melancholy into 
which he was prone to descend, by a jest, a comic song, 
or a provoking sally of a startling kind ; and Mr. Lincoln 
always thanked me afterward for my well-timed rudeness 
" of kind intent." 

This reminds me of one or two little rhythmic shots I 
often fired at him in his melancholy moods, and it was a 
kind of nonsense that he always keenly relished. One 
was a parody on " Life on the Ocean Wave." 

Mr. Lincoln would always laugh immoderately when I 
sang this jingling nonsense to him. It reminded him of 
the rude and often witty ballads that had amused him in 
his boyhood days. He was fond of negro melodies, and 
"The Blue-Tailed Fly" was a favorite. He often called 
for that buzzing ballad when we were alone, and he wanted 
to throw off the weight of public and private cares. 

A comic song in the theatre always restored Mr. 
Lincoln's cheerful good-humor. But while he had a 
great fondness for witty and mirth-provoking ballads, 



152 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

our grand old patriotic airs and songs of the tender and 
sentimental kind afforded him the deepest pleasure. 
"Ben Bolt" was one of his favorite ballads; so was 
"The Sword of Bunker Hill ; " and he was always deeply 
moved by "The Lament of the Irish Emigrant," espe- 
cially the following touching lines : 

" I 'm very lonely now, Mary, 

For the poor make no new friends ; 
But, oh, they love the better still 

The few our Father sends 1 
And you were all I had, Mary, 

My blessing and my pride; 
There 's nothing left to care for now, 

Since my poor Mary died." 

Many examples can be given illustrative of this phase 
of Mr. Lincoln's character, the blending of the mirth- 
ful and the melancholy in his singular love of music and 
verse. When he was seventeen years old, his sister was 
married. The festivities of the occasion were made 
memorable by a song entitled " Adam and Eve's Wed- 
ding Song," which many believed was composed by Mr. 
Lincoln himself. The conceits embodied in the verses 
were old before Mr. Lincoln was born ; but there is some 
intrinsic as well as extrinsic evidence to show that the 
doggerel itself was his. 

ADAM AND EVE'S WEDDING SONG. 

When Adam was created, he dwelt in Eden's shade, 
As Moses has recorded ; and soon an Eve was made. 

Ten thousand times ten thousand 

Of creatures swarmed around 

Before a bride was formed, 

And yet no mate was found. 



THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 153 

The Lord then was not willing 
The man should be alone, 
But caused a sleep upon him, 
And took from him a bone. 



And closed the flesh in that place of; 
And then he took the same, 
And of it made a woman, 
And brought her to the man. 

Then Adam he rejoiced 
To see his loving bride, 
A part of his own body, 
The product of his side. 

This woman was not taken 
From Adam's feet, we see ; 
So he must not abuse her, 
The meaning seems to be. 

This woman was not taken 
From Adam's head, we know; 
To show she must not rule him, 
'T is evidently so. 

This woman she was taken 
From under Adam's arm ; 
So she must be protected 
From injuries and harm. 

But the lines which Mr. Lincoln liked best of all, and 
which were repeated by him more often than any other, 
were 

" Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? " 

Mr. Carpenter in his " Six Months at the White House " 
gives them in full as follows : 

"Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? 
Like a swift-fleeting meteor, a fast-flying cloud, 
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, 
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave. 



154 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

" The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade, 
Be scattered around, and together be laid ; 
And the young and the old, and the low and the high, 
Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie. 

" The infant a mother attended and loved ; 
The mother that infant's affection who proved ; 
The husband that mother and infant who blest, 
Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest. 

"The maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye, 
Shone beauty and pleasure, her triumphs are by; 
And the memory of those who loved her and praised, 
Are alike from the minds of the living erased. 

" The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne, 
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn, 
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave, 
Are hidden and lost in the depths of the grave. 

" The peasant whose lot was to sow and to reap, 
The herdsman who climbed with his goats up the steep, 
The beggar who wandered in search of his bread, 
Have faded away like the grass that we tread. 

"The saint who enjoyed the communion of Heaven, 
The sinner who dared to remain untorgiven, 
The wise and the foolish, the guilty and just, 
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust. 

" So the multitude goes, like the flower or the weed, 
That withers away to let others succeed ; 
So the multitude comes, even those we behold, 
To repeat every tale that has often been told. 

" For we are the same our fathers have been ; 
We see the same sights our fathers have seen ; 
We drink the same stream, we view the same sun, 
And run the same course our fathers have run. 

" The thoughts we are thinking our fathers would think ; 
From the death we are shrinking our fathers would shrink; 
To the life we are clinging they also would cling, 
But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing. 



THE ANTIETAM EPISODE. 155 

" They loved, but the story we cannot unfold ; 
They scorned, but the heart of the haughty is cold ; 
They grieved, but no wail from their slumber will come ; 
They joyed, but the tongue of their gladness is dumb. 

"They died, ay, they died : we things that are now, 
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow, 
And make in their dwellings a transient abode, 
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road. 

"Yea, hope and despondency, pleasure and pain, 
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain ; 
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge, 
Still follow each other like surge upon surge. 

" 'T is the wink of an eye, 't is the draught of a breath, 
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death, 
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud, 
Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? " 

These curiously sad lines were chosen by Mr. Lincoln 
when he was a very young man to commemorate a grief 
which lay with continual heaviness on his heart, but to 
which he could not otherwise allude, the death of 
Ann Rutledge, in whose grave Mr. Lincoln said that his 
heart lay buried. He muttered these verses as he 
rambled through the woods ; he was heard to murmur 
them as he slipped into the village at nightfall; they 
came unbidden to his lips in all places, and very often 
in his later life. In the year of his nomination, he 
repeated them to some friends. When he had finished 
them, he said " they sounded to him as much like true 
poetry as anything that he had ever heard." The 
poem is now his ; it is imperishably associated with his 
memory and interwoven with the history of his greatest 
sorrow. Mr. Lincoln's adoption of it has saved it from 



156 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN". 



oblivion, and translated it from the " poet's corner " of 
the country newspaper to a place in the story of his 
own life. 

But enough has been given to show that Mr. Lincoln 
was as incapable of insulting the dead, in the manner 
credited to him in the Antietam episode, as he was of 
committing mean and unmanly outrages upon the living. 
If hypercritical and self-appointed judges are still dis- 
posed to award blame for anything that happened on 
that occasion, let their censure fall upon me, and not 
upon the memory of the illustrious dead, who was guilt- 
less of wrong and without the shadow of blame for the 
part he bore in that misjudged affair. My own part in 
the incident, in the light of the facts here given, needs 
no apology. 



CHAFFER X. 

HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 

NO sketch of Mr. Lincoln's character can be called 
complete which does not present him as he 
appeared at his own fireside, showing his love for his 
own children, his tenderness toward the little ones 
generally, and how in important emergencies he was 
influenced by them. A great writer has said that it were 
" better to be driven out from among men than to be 
disliked by children." So Mr. Lincoln firmly believed ; 
and whenever it chanced that he gave offence to a 
child unwittingly he never rested until he had won 
back its favor and affection. He beheld in the face 
of a little child a record of innocence and love, of 
truth and trust ; and in the society of children he was 
always happy. 

Owing, perhaps, to his homely countenance and un- 
gainly figure, strange children generally repelled his first 
advances ; but I never saw him fail to win the affection 
of a child when its guileless friendship became a matter 
of interest to him. He could persuade any child from 
the arms of its mother, nurse, or play-fellow, there being 
a peculiar fascination in his voice and manner which 
the little one could not resist. As a student of child 



158 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

nature and a lover of its artless innocence, he had no 
patience with people who practise upon the credulity of 
children ; and it was a rule of his life never to mislead a 
child, even in the most trifling matter, or if in his power 
to prevent it to be misled or deceived by others. On 
making the acquaintance of a child he at once became 
its friend, and never afterward forgot its face or the 
circumstances under which the acquaintance was formed ; 
for his little friends always made some impression on his 
mind and feelings that was certain to be lasting. 

A striking instance of this character deserves especial 
mention. Shortly after his first election to the Presi- 
dency he received a pleasant letter from a little girl 
living in a small town in the State of New York. The 
child told him that she had seen his picture, and it was 
her opinion, as she expressed it in her artless way, that 
he " would be a better looking man if he would let his 
beard grow." Mr. Lincoln passed that New York town 
on his way to Washington, and his first thought on 
reaching the place was about his little correspondent. 
In his brief speech to the people he made a pleasing 
reference to the child and her charming note. "This 
little lady," said he, "saw from the first that great 
improvement might be made in my personal appearance. 
You all see that I am not a very handsome man ; and to 
be honest with you, neither I nor any of my friends ever 
boasted very much about my personal beauty." He 
then passed his hand over his face and continued : 
" But I intend to follow that little girl's advice, and if 



HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 159 

she is present I would like to speak to her." The child 
came forward timidly, and was warmly greeted by the 
President-elect. He took her in his arms and kissed 
her affectionately, expressing the hope that he might 
have the pleasure of seeing his little friend again 
sometime. 

Shortly after this, Mr. Lincoln, for the first time in his 
life, allowed his beard to grow all over his face, with the 
exception of the upper lip; and this fashion he con- 
tinued as long as he lived. In speaking of the incident 
which led him to wear a full beard, he afterward re- 
marked, reflectively, " How small a thing will sometimes 
change the whole aspect of our lives ! " 

That Mr. Lincoln realized that an improvement was 
necessary in his personal appearance is evidenced by 
many amusing stories told by him. The one he espe- 
cially enjoyed telling was, how once, when " riding the 
circuit," he was accosted in the cars by a stranger, who 
said, " Excuse me, sir, but I have an article in my pos- 
session which belongs to you." "How is that?" Mr. 
Lincoln asked, much astonished. The stranger took a 
knife from his pocket, saying, "This knife was placed 
in my hands some years ago with the injunction that 
I was to keep it until I found a man uglier than myself. 
I have carried it from that time to this. Allow me 
now to say, sir, that I think you are fairly entitled to 
the property." 

Mr. Carpenter, the artist who painted the picture of 
" The Proclamation of Emancipation," tells in his book 



160 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

of an incident which occurred the day following the 
adjournment of the Baltimore Convention : " Various 
political organizations called to pay their respects to the 
President. While the Philadelphia delegation was being 
presented, the chairman of that body, in introducing one 
of the members, said : ' Mr. President, this is Mr. S. of 
the second district of our State, a most active and 
earnest friend of yours and the cause. He has, among 
other things, been good enough to paint, and present to 
our league rooms, a most beautiful portrait of yourself.' 
Mr. Lincoln took the gentleman's hand in his, and 
shaking it cordially said, with a merry voice, 'I pre- 
sume, sir, in painting your beautiful portrait, you took 
your idea of me from my principles and not from 
my person.' " 

Before leaving the old town of Springfield, Mr. 
Lincoln was often seen, on sunny afternoons, striking 
out on foot to a neighboring wood, attended by his little 
sons. There he would romp with them as a companion, 
and enter with great delight into all their childish sports. 
This joyous companionship with his children suffered 
no abatement when he became a resident of the White 
House and took upon himself the perplexing cares of his 
great office. To find relief from those cares he would 
call his boys to some quiet part of the house, throw 
himself at full length upon the floor, and abandon 
himself to their fun and frolic as merrily as if he had 
been of their own age. The two children who were his 
play-fellows in these romping scenes the first year of 



HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. ifa 

his residence at the Executive Mansion were Willie and 
Thomas, the latter of whom he always called " Tad ; " 
and these children were the youngest of his family. 

In February, 1862, this fond father was visited by a 
sorrowful bereavement. The Executive Mansion was 
turned into a house of mourning. Death had chosen a 
shining mark, and the beloved Willie, the apple of his 
father's eye, the brightest and most promising of his 
children, was taken away. The dreadful stroke wellnigh 
broke the President's heart, and certainly an affliction 
more crushing never fell to the lot of man. In the 
lonely grave of the little one lay buried Mr. Lincoln's 
fondest hopes, and, strong as he was in the matter of 
self-control, he gave way to an overmastering grief, 
which became at length a serious menace to his health. 
Never was there witnessed in an American household a 
scene of distress more touching than that in which the 
President and Mrs. Lincoln mingled their tears over the 
coffin that inclosed the lifeless form of their beloved 
child. A deep and settled despondency took possession 
of Mr. Lincoln; and when it is remembered that this 
calamity for such it surely was befell him at a 
critical period of the war, just when the resources 
of his mighty intellect were most in demand, it will be 
understood how his affliction became a matter of the 
gravest concern to the whole country, and especially to 
those who stood in close personal and official relations 
with him. 

The measures taken by his friends to break the force 



1 62 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

of his great grief, and to restore him to something like 
his old-time cheerfulness, seemed for a while unavailing. 
The nearest approach to success in this humane endeavor 
was made, I believe, by the Rev. Dr. Vinton, of Trinity 
Church, New York, who visited the White House not 
long after the death of Willie. The doctor's effort led 
to a very remarkable scene, one that shows how terrible 
is a great man's grief. Mr. Lincoln had a high respect 
for Dr. Vinton. He knew him to be an able man, and 
believed him to be conscientious and sincere. The 
good doctor, profoundly impressed with the importance 
of his mission, determined that in administering conso- 
lation to the stricken President it would be necessary to 
use great freedom of speech. Mr. Lincoln was over- 
burdened with the weight of his public cares, weak in 
body, and sick in mind ; and his thoughts seemed to 
linger constantly about the grave of his lost darling. Ill 
health and depression made him apparently listless, and 
this the worthy doctor mistook for a sign of rebellion 
against the just decree of Providence. He began by 
exhorting the President to remember his duty to the 
common Father who "giveth and taketh away," and to 
whom we owe cheerful obedience and thanks for worldly 
afflictions as well as for temporal benefits. He chided 
Mr. Lincoln for giving way to excessive grief, declaring 
without reserve that the indulgence of such grief, though 
natural, was sinful ; that greater fortitude was demanded ; 
that his duties to the living were imperative ; and that, 
as the chosen leader of the people in a national crisis, 



HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 163 

he was unfitting himself for the discharge of duties and 
responsibilities which could not be evaded. Mr. Lincoln 
listened patiently and respectfully for a time to this 
strong and pointed exhortation. He was evidently much 
affected by it, but as the doctor proceeded he became 
lost in his own reflections. From this revery he was 
aroused by words which had a magical effect. 

" To mourn excessively for the departed as lost," 
continued Dr. Vinton, " is foreign to our religion. It 
belongs not to Christianity, but to heathenism. Your 
son is alive in Paradise." 

When these last words were uttered, Mr. Lincoln, as 
if suddenly awakened from a dream, exclaimed, " Alive ! 
alive ! Surely you mock me ! " These magic words had 
startled him, and his countenance showed that he was 
profoundly distressed. 

Without heeding the President's emotion, the doctor 
continued, in a tone of deep solemnity, " Seek not your 
son among the dead, for he is not there. God is not 
the God of the dead, but of the living. Did not the 
ancient patriarch mourn for his son as dead? 'Joseph 
is not, and Simeon is not, and ye will take Benjamin 
also.' The fact that Benjamin was taken away made 
him the instrument, eventually, in saving the whole 
family." Applying this Scriptural test, the doctor told 
Mr. Lincoln that his little son had been called by the 
All- Wise and Merciful Father to His upper kingdom ; 
that, like Joseph, the departed boy might be the means 
of saving the President's household ; and that it must be 



1 64 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

considered as a part of the Lord's plan for the ultimate 
happiness of the family. 

Mr. Lincoln was deeply moved by this consolatory 
exhortation. The respected divine had touched a re- 
sponsive chord. His strong words, spoken with such 
evident sincerity and in a manner so earnest and impres- 
sive, brought strength as well as comfort to the illustrious 
mourner; and there is no doubt that this remarkable 
interview had a good effect in helping to recall to Mr. 
Lincoln a more healthful state of feeling, and in restoring 
his accustomed self-control. Willie had inherited the 
amiable disposition and a large share of the talent of his 
father. He was a child of great promise, and his death 
was sincerely mourned by all who knew him. 

Mr. Lincoln's fondness for his children knew no 
bounds. It wellnigh broke his heart to use his paternal 
authority in correcting their occasional displays of 
temper or insubordination ; but when occasion required 
the sacrifice, he showed great firmness in teaching them 
the strictest obedience. I remember a very amusing 
instance of this sort of contest between his indulgent 
fondness and his sense of what was due to his guiding 
authority as a father. 

At the time to which I refer, Tad seemed to his fond 
father the most lovable object on earth. That fondness 
had been intensified by the death of Willie just men- 
tioned. In one of the vacant rooms of the White House 
Tad had fitted up, with the aid of the servants, a minia- 
ture theatre. The little fellow had rare skill and good 



HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 165 

taste in such matters, and after long and patient effort 
the work was completed. There were the stage, the 
orchestra, the parquet, the curtains, and all the parapher- 
nalia pertaining to what he called " a real theatre," and 
Tad was in a delirium of childish joy. About this time, 
just after the review of Burnside's division of the army 
of the Potomac, a certain photographer came to the 
Executive Mansion to make some stereoscopic studies 
of the President's office for Mr. Carpenter, who had 
been much about the house. Mr. Carpenter and the 
photographer appeared at the same time. The artists 
told Mr. Lincoln that they must have a dark closet in 
which to develop their pictures. There was such a closet 
attached to the room which Tad had appropriated for 
his theatre, and it could not be reached without passing 
through the room. 

With Mr. Lincoln's permission the artists took pos- 
session of the "theatre," and they had taken several 
pictures before Tad discovered the trespass upon his 
premises. When he took in the situation there was an 
uproar. Their occupancy of his " theatre," without his 
consent, was an offence that stirred his wrath into an 
instant blaze. The little fellow declared indignantly 
that he would not submit to any such impudence. He 
locked the door and carried off the key. The artists 
hunted him up, and coaxed, remonstrated, and begged, 
but all in vain. The young theatre manager, in a flame 
of passion, blamed Carpenter with the whole outrage. 
He declared that they should neither use his room nor 



1 66 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

go into it to get their instruments and chemicals. " No 
one," said he, "has any business in my room, unless 
invited by me, and I never invited you." Here was a 
pretty state of things. Tad was master of the situation. 

Finally, Mr. Lincoln was appealed to. Tad was 
called, and Mr. Lincoln said to him, " Go, now, and 
unlock the door." The offended boy went off to his 
mother's room, muttering a positive refusal to obey his 
father's command. On hearing of the child's disobedi- 
ence, Mr. Lincoln soon had the key, and " the theatre " 
was again invaded by the artists. Soon after this, Mr. 
Lincoln said to Carpenter, half apologetically : " Tad is 
a peculiar child. He was violently excited when I 
went to him for the key. I said to him, ' Tad, do you 
know that you are making your father very unhappy? 
You are causing a deal of trouble.' He burst into tears, 
and gave up the key. I had not the heart to say much 
to him in the way of reproof, for the little man certainly 
thought his rights had been shamefully disregarded." 
The distress which this unlucky affair brought upon his 
little pet caused Mr. Lincoln more concern than any- 
thing else connected with it. 

During the first year of the war, owing to the great 
press of business, it was at times difficult to get at the 
President. Some four or five distinguished gentlemen 
from Kentucky, who had come to visit him as commis- 
sioners or agents from that State, had been endeavoring, 
for a number of days, without success, to see him. Mr. 
Lincoln having learned the object of their intended visit to 



HIS LOVE OF CHILDREN. 

him through some source or other, wanted to avoid the 
interview if possible, and had given them no opportunity 
for presenting themselves. One day after waiting in the 
lobby for several hours, they were about to give up the 
effort in despair, and in no amiable terms expressed 
their disappointment as they turned to the head of the 
stairs, saying something about " seeing old Abe." Tad 
caught at these words, and asked them if they wanted 
to see "old Abe," laughing at the same time. "Yes," 
they replied. "Wait a minute," said Tad, and he 
rushed into his father's office and said, " Papa, may I 
introduce some friends to you ? " His father, always 
indulgent and ready to make him happy, kindly said, 
" Yes, my son, I will see your friends." Tad went to 
the Kentuckians again, and asked a very dignified look- 
ing gentleman of the party what his name was. He was 
told his name. He then said, "Come, gentlemen," 
and they followed him. Leading them up to Mr. 
Lincoln, Tad, with much dignity, said, " Papa, let me 

introduce to you Judge , of Kentucky ; " and 

quickly added, "Now, Judge, you introduce the other 
gentlemen." The introductions were gone through with, 
and they turned out to be the gentlemen Mr. Lincoln 
had been avoiding for a week. Mr. Lincoln reached 
for the boy, took him on his lap, kissed him, and told 
him it was all right, and that he had introduced his friend 
like a little gentleman as he was. Tad was eleven years 
old at this time. 

Mr. Lincoln was pleased with Tad's diplomacy, and 



1 68 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

often laughed at the incident as he told others of it. 
One day while caressing the boy, he asked him why 
he called those gentlemen " his friends." " Well," said 
Tad, "I had seen them so often, and they looked so 
good and sorry, and said they were from Kentucky, 
that I thought they must be our friends." " That is 
right, my son," said Mr. Lincoln; "I would have the 
whole human race your friends and mine, if it were 
possible." 



CHAPTER XI. 

THE TRUE HISTORY OF THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 

AMONG the many historic scenes in which President 
Lincoln was an actor there is not one, perhaps, 
where a single incident gave rise to speculations so 
groundless and guesses so wide of the truth as his justly 
celebrated Gettysburg speech.* Since his death there 
has been an enormous expenditure, not to say a very 
great waste, of literary talent on that extraordinary 

* Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on 
this Continent a new nation, conceived, in liberty, and dedicated 
to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a civil war, testing whether that nation, 
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We 
are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to 
dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those 
who gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether 
fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But in a larger sense we cannot dedicate, we cannot conse- 
crate, we cannot hallow, this ground. The brave men, living 
and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our 
poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long 
remember, what we say here ; but it can never forget what they did 
here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to 
the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so 
nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the 
great task remaining before us ; that from these honored dead we 
take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last 
full measure of devotion ; that we here highly resolve that these 
dead shall not have died in vain ; that this nation, under God, shall 
have a new birth of freedom ; and that government of the people, 
by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. 



I/O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

address, as there has been on almost everything else he 
did, or was supposed to have done, from his boyhood 
until the moment of his assassination. That reporters, 
critics, chroniclers, eulogists, flatterers, and biographers 
have not only failed to give a true account of that 
famous speech, but that they have subjected Mr. Lincoln's 
memory to hurtful misrepresentation, it is the purpose 
of this chapter to show. 

It was my good fortune to have known Mr. Lincoln 
long and well, so long and so intimately that as the 
shadows lengthen and the years recede I am more and 
more impressed by the rugged grandeur and nobility of 
his character, his strength of intellect, and his singular 
purity of heart. Surely I am the last man on earth to 
say or do aught in derogation of his matchless worth, 
or to tarnish the fair fame of him who was, during eigh- 
teen of the most eventful years of my life, a constant, 
considerate, and never-failing friend. 

The world has long since conceded that Abraham 
Lincoln was great in all the elements that go to make up 
human greatness. He had a stamp of originality entirely 
his own. With his unique individuality and his com- 
manding intellect at once strong, sagacious, and pro- 
foundly acute and critical were associated a mental 
integrity and a moral purpose as firm as granite, a 
thorough knowledge of himself, and a modesty that 
scorned not only self-laudation but eulogy by others for 
fame or achievements not his own. An act accomplished 
by him, either in his character of a citizen or as a public 



THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. I? I 

servant, he regarded more as a duty discharged than as 
an achievement of which to be proud. He was chari- 
table to a fault; and yet no man ever discriminated 
more narrowly in forming a judgment concerning the 
character, the acts, and the motives of other men, or 
had a keener appreciation of merit or demerit in others. 
With his characteristic honesty and simplicity we may 
well suppose, that, were he alive to-day, he would feel 
under little obligation to the swarm of fulsome eulogists 
who have made up a large part of the current chronicles 
of his life and public conduct by ascribing to him 
ornamental virtues which he never possessed, and 
motives, purposes, and achievements which he would 
promptly disown if he could now speak for himself. 

Discriminating observers and students of history have 
not failed to note the fact that the ceremony of Mr. 
Lincoln's apotheosis was not only planned but executed by 
men who were unfriendly to him while he lived, and that 
the deification took place with showy magnificence some 
time after the great man's lips were sealed in death. 
Men who had exhausted the resources of their skill and 
ingenuity in venomous detraction of the living Lincoln, 
especially during the last years of his life, were the first, 
when the assassin's bullet had closed the career of the 
great-hearted statesman, to undertake the self-imposed 
task of guarding his memory, not as a human being 
endowed with a mighty intellect and extraordinary 
virtues, but as a god; In fact, the tragic death of Mr. 
Lincoln brought a more fearful panic to his former 



1/2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

traducers than to his friends. The latter's legacy was 
deep sorrow and mourning ; the former were left to the 
humiliating necessity of a change of base to place them- 
selves en rapport with the millions who mourned the loss 
of their greatest patriot and statesman. 

If there was one form of flattery more offensive to the 
noble and manly pride of Mr. Lincoln than all others, 
it was that in which credit was given him for a meritori- 
ous deed done by some other man, or which ascribed 
to him some sentimental or saintly virtue that he knew 
he did not possess. In the same spirit he rejected all 
commendations or flattering compliments touching any- 
thing which he had written or spoken, when, in his own 
judgment, there was nothing especially remarkable in 
the speech or the composition referred to. Although 
superior, I readily concede, to any other man I have 
ever known, Mr. Lincoln was yet thoroughly human; 
and with his exact knowledge of his own character, 
its weakness and its strength, he once said to me, 
speaking of what historians and biographers might say 
of him, " Speak of me as I am ; nothing extenuate, nor 
set down aught in malice." He had a clear perception 
of the value of that history which is truthful; and he 
believed that hosannas sung to the memory of the 
greatest of men, as if they were demi-gods, are hurtful 
to their fame. 

A day or two before the dedication of the National 
Cemetery at Gettysburg, Mr. Lincoln told me that he 
would be expected to make a speech on the occasion; 



THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 173 

that he was extremely busy, and had no time for prepara- 
tion ; and that he greatly feared he would not be able to 
acquit himself with credit, much less to fill the measure 
of public expectation. From his hat (the usual recep- 
tacle for his private notes and memoranda) he drew a 
sheet of foolscap, one side of which was closely written 
with what he informed me was a memorandum of his 
intended address. This he read to me, first remarking 
that it was not at all satisfactory to him. It proved to 
be in substance, if not in exact words, what was after- 
wards printed as his famous Gettysburg speech. 

After its delivery on the day of commemoration, he 
expressed deep regret that he had not prepared it with 
greater care. He said to me on the stand, immediately 
after concluding the speech : " Lamon, that speech won't 
scour! It is a flat failure, and the people are dis- 
appointed." (The word " scour " he often used in ex- 
pressing his positive conviction that a thing lacked merit, 
or would not stand the test of close criticism or the 
wear of time.) He seemed deeply concerned about 
what the people might think of his address ; more deeply, 
in fact, than I had ever seen him on any public occasion. 
His frank and regretful condemnation of his effort, and 
more especially his manner of expressing that regret, 
struck me as somewhat remarkable ; and my own im- 
pression was deepened by the fact that the orator of 
the day, Mr. Everett, and Secretary Seward both coin- 
cided with Mr. Lincoln in his unfavorable view of its 
merits. 



RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

The occasion was solemn, impressive, and grandly 
historic. The people, it is true, stood apparently spell- 
bound ; and the vast throng was hushed and awed into 
profound silence while Mr. Lincoln delivered his brief 
speech. But it seemed to him that this silence and 
attention to his words arose more from the solemnity of 
the ceremonies and the awful scenes which gave rise to 
them, than from anything he had said. He believed 
that the speech was a failure. He thought so at the 
time, and he never referred to it afterwards, in conversa- 
tion with me, without some expression of unqualified 
regret that he had not made the speech better in every 
way. 

On the platform from which Mr. Lincoln delivered 
his address, and only a moment after it was concluded, 
Mr. Seward turned to Mr. Everett and asked him what 
he thought of the President's speech. Mr. Everett 
replied, " It is not what I expected from him. I am 
disappointed." Then in his turn Mr. Everett asked, 
" What do you think of it, Mr. Seward? " The response 
was, "He has made a failure, and I am sorry for it. 
His speech is not equal to him." Mr. Seward then 
turned to me and asked, "Mr. Marshal, what do you 
think of it?" I answered, "I am sorry to say that it 
does not impress me as one of his great speeches." 

In the face of these facts it has been repeatedly 
published that this speech was received by the audience 
with loud demonstrations of approval ; that " amid the 
tears, sobs, and cheers it produced in the excited throng, 



THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 175 

the orator of the day, Mr. Everett, turned to Mr. Lincoln, 
grasped his hand and exclaimed, 'I congratulate you 
on your success ! ' adding in a transport of heated 
enthusiasm, 'Ah, Mr. President, how gladly would I 
give my hundred pages to be the author of your twenty 
lines ! '" Nothing of the kind occurred. It is a slander 
on Mr. Everett, an injustice to Mr. Lincoln, and a falsi- 
fication of history. Mr. Everett could not have used the 
words attributed to him, in the face of his own con- 
demnation of the speech uttered a moment before, with- 
out subjecting himself to the charge of being a toady and 
a hypocrite ; and he was neither the one nor the other. 

As a matter of fact, the silence during the delivery of 
the speech, and the lack of hearty demonstrations of 
approval immediately after its close, were taken by Mr. 
Lincoln as certain proof that it was not well received. 
In that opinion we all shared. If any person then pres- 
ent saw, or thought he saw, the marvellous beauties of 
that wonderful speech, as intelligent men in all lands 
now see and acknowledge them, his superabundant cau- 
tion closed his lips and stayed his pen. Mr. Lincoln 
said to me after our return to Washington, " I tell you, 
Hill, that speech fell on the audience like a wet blanket. 
I am distressed about it. I ought to have prepared it 
with more care." Such continued to be his opinion of 
that most wonderful of all his platform addresses up to 
the time of his death. 

I state it as a fact, and without fear of contradiction, 
that this famous Gettysburg speech was not regarded by 



1 76 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

the audience to whom it was addressed, or by the press 
and people of the United States, as a production of 
extraordinary merit, nor was it commented on as such 
until after the death of its author. Those who look 
thoughtfully into the history of the matter must own 
that Mr. Lincoln was, on that occasion, " wiser than he 
knew." He was wiser than his audience, wiser than the 
great scholars and orators who were associated with him 
in the events of that solemn day. He had unconsciously 
risen to a height above the level of even the " cultured 
thought " of that period. 6 

The marvellous perfection, the intrinsic excellence of 
the Gettysburg speech as a masterpiece of English com- 
position, seem to have escaped the scrutiny of even the 
most scholarly critics of that day, on this side of the 
Atlantic. That discovery was made, it must be regret- 
fully owned, by distinguished writers on the other side. 
The London "Spectator," the "Saturday Review," the 
" Edinburgh Review," and some other European jour- 
nals were the first to discover, or at least to proclaim, 
the classical merits of the Gettysburg speech. It was 
then that we began to realize that it was indeed a mas- 
terpiece ; and it dawned upon many minds that we had 
entertained an angel unawares, who had left us unappre- 
ciated. In no country and in no age of the world has 
the death of any man caused an outpouring of sorrow so 
universal. Every nation of the earth felt and expressed 
its sense of the loss to progressive civilization and popu- 
lar government. In his life and death, thoughtful men 



THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 177 

in all lands found an inspiring theme. England's great- 
est thinker, John Stuart Mill, pronounced Abraham Lin- 
coln to be "the greatest citizen, who has afforded a 
noble example of the qualities befitting the first magis- 
trate of a free people." The London "Times" declared 
that the news of his death would be received throughout 
Europe "with sorrow as sincere and profound as it 
awoke in the United States," and that " Englishmen had 
learned to respect a man who showed the best charac- 
teristics of their race." The London "Spectator" spoke 
of him as "certainly the best, if not the ablest man 
ruling over any country in the civilized world." 

For using in his Gettysburg speech the celebrated 
phrase, " the government of the people, by the people, 
and for the people," Mr. Lincoln has been subjected to 
the most brutal criticism as well as to the most ground- 
less flattery. Some have been base enough to insinuate 
against that great and sincere man that he was guilty 
of the crime of wilful plagiarism ; others have ascribed 
to him the honor of originating the phrase entire. There 
is injustice to him in either view of the case. I per- 
sonally know that Mr. Lincoln made no pretence of origi- 
nality in the matter ; nor was he, on the other hand, 
conscious of having appropriated the thought, or even 
the exact words, of any other man. If he is subject to 
the charge of plagiarism, so is the great Webster, who 
used substantially the same phrase in his celebrated 
reply to Hayne. Both men may have acquired the 
peculiar form of expression (the thought itself being as 

12 



1/8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN". 

old as the republican idea of government) by the process 
known as unconscious appropriation. Certain it is that 
neither Lincoln nor Webster originated the phrase. Let 
us see how the case stands. 

In an address before the New England Antislavery 
Convention in Boston, May 29, 1850, Theodore Parker 
defined Democracy as " a government of all the people, 
by all the people, for all the people, of course," which 
language is identical with that employed by Mr. Lincoln 
in his Gettysburg speech. Substantially the same phrase 
was used by Judge Joel Parker in the Massachusetts 
Constitutional Convention in 1853. A distinguished 
diplomat has acquainted me with the singular fact that 
almost the identical phrase employed by Mr. Lincoln 
was used in another language by a person whose existence 
even was not probably known to Mr. Webster, the 
Parkers, or to Mr. Lincoln. On the thirty-first page of a 
work entitled " Geschichte der Schweizerischen Re- 
generation von 1830 bis 1848, von P. Feddersen," 
appears an account of a public meeting held at Olten, 
Switzerland, in May, 1830. On that occasion a speaker 
named Schinz used the following language, as translated 
by my friend just referred to : " All the governments of 
Switzerland [referring to the cantons] must acknowledge 
that they are simply from all the people, by all the people* 
and for all the people" 

These extracts are enough to show that no American 
statesman or writer can lay claim to the origin or author- 
ship of the phrase in question. No friend of Mr. Lin- 



THE GETTYSBURG SPEECH. 179 

coin will pretend that it is the coinage of his fertile 
brain; nor will any fair-minded man censure him for 
using it as he did in his Gettysburg speech. As a 
phrase of singular compactness and force, it was em- 
ployed by him, legitimately and properly, as a fitting 
conclusion to an address which the judgment of both 
hemispheres has declared will live as a model of classic 
oratory while free government shall continue to be 
known and revered among men. 



" The world will little note, 
nor long remember, what we 
say here ; but it can never 
forget what they did here." 
LINCOLN. 



" The speech will live when 
the memory of the battle will 
be lost or only remembered 
because of the speech." 



SUMNER. 



CHAPTER XII. 

HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 

DURING the long series of defeats and disasters 
which culminated in the battles of Fredericksburg 
and of Chancellorsville, there arose in certain circles of 
the army and of the National Legislature a feeling of 
distrust and dissatisfaction, that reached its climax in an 
intrigue to displace Mr. Lincoln, if not from his position 
at least from the exercise of his prerogatives, by the 
appointment of a dictator. Such a measure would have 
been scarcely less revolutionary than many others which 
were openly avowed and advocated. 

In this cabal were naturally included all those self-con- 
stituted advisers whose counsels had not been adopted 
in the conduct of the war; all those malcontents and 
grumblers who, conscious of their incapacity to become 
makers of pots and pitchers, are always so eager to 
exhibit their skill and ingenuity as menders of them. In 
this coalition of non-combatant guardian angels of the 
country and civilian warriors were to be found patriots 
of every shade and of every degree. 

First, the political patriot, who recognized in a bril- 
liant succession of Federal victories the only probable 
prospect of preserving the ascendency of his party and 
promoting his own personal fortunes. 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. l8l 

Second, the commercial patriot, whose dominant pas- 
sion was a love of self; to whom the spoliation of the 
South and the swindling of his own government afforded 
the most fruitful expedient for feathering his nest. 

Third, the religious patriot, whose love of country was 
subordinate to his hatred of slavery and of slaveholders ; 
who* having recanted his dictum that the Constitution of 
the United States was a "covenant with death and an 
agreement with hell," was now one of the most vindic- 
tive and unscrupulous advocates of a war of extermination. 
As is frequently the case where one class of persons is 
severely exercised over the iniquities of another, to a 
sentiment of philanthropy had succeeded the most vio- 
lent animosity and intolerance, until sympathy for the 
slave degenerated into the most envenomed hostility 
toward his owner. 

Among the most aggressive assailants of the President 
were thus comprised all those elements in his party, 
with whom the logic of the war might be summed up in 
the comprehensive formula, " Power, plunder, and ex- 
tended rule." The evolution of events and his consis- 
tent policy, as foreshadowed and indicated on the close 
of hostilities, have clearly demonstrated that with such 
minds Mr. Lincoln could have little sympathy or fellow- 
ship. Conscientiously observant of his solemn oath to 
maintain the Constitution, he could not be persuaded to 
evade the obligations of his high trust by lending his 
authority to the accomplishment of their revolutionary 
and nefarious designs. Hinc illce lachrymce ; hence, dis- 



1 82 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

appointed at the failure of their endeavor to shape his 
policy in obedience to the suggestions of their own 
ignoble designs, their open revolt. 

No member of the cabal was better advised of its 
progress or of the parties concerned in it than Mr. Lin- 
coln himself. He often talked with me on the subject. 
He did not fear it ; he feared nothing except to commit 
an involuntary wrong or mistake of judgment in the 
administration of his high and responsible trust. He 
would willingly have resigned office and retired to the 
unobtrusive life and simple duties of a private citizen, if 
by so doing he could have restored the integrity of the 
Union, or in anywise have promoted the success of the 
Union cause. In this connection he would often say to 
me : " In God's name ! if any one can do better in my 
place than I have done, or am endeavoring to do, let 
him try his hand at it, and no one will be better con- 
tented than myself." 

One time I went to Mr. Lincoln's office at the White 
House and found the door locked. I went through a pri- 
vate room and through a side entrance into the office, 
where I found the President lying on a sofa, evidently 
greatly disturbed and much excited, manifestly displeased 
with the outlook. Jumping up from his reclining position 
he advanced, saying : " You know better than any man 
living that from my boyhood up my ambition was to be 
President. I am President of one part of this divided 
country at least ; but look at me ! I wish I had never 
been born ! It is a white elephant on my hands, and hard 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 183 

to manage. With a fire in my front and rear ; having to 
contend with the jealousies of the military commanders, 
and not receiving that cordial co-operation and support 
from Congress which could reasonably be expected ; with 
an active and formidable enemy in the field threatening 
the very life-blood of the government, my position is 
anything but a bed of roses." 

I remarked to him : " It strikes me that you are 
somewhat in the position of the great Richelieu, of whom 
it was said that he was the first man in Europe but the 
second only in his own country." 

" Oh, no ! very far from it," he replied. " Richelieu 
never had a fire in his front and rear at the same time, 
but a united constituency, which it has never been my 
good fortune to have." Then brightening up, his whole 
nature seemed all at once to change. I could see a 
merry twinkle in his eye as he said : " If I can only keep 
my end of the animal pointed in the right direction, I 
will yet get him through this infernal jungle and get my 
end of him and his tail placed in their proper relative posi- 
tions. I have never faltered in my faith of being ulti- 
mately able to suppress this rebellion and of reuniting 
this divided country ; but this improvised vigilant com- 
mittee to watch my movements and keep me straight, 
appointed by Congress and called the 'committee on 
the conduct of the war,' is a marplot, and its greatest 
purpose seems to be to hamper my action and obstruct 
the military operations." 

Earnestly desirous of conciliating and harmonizing 



1 84 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 

every element, with a view to the accomplishment 
of the one the dearest aspiration of his heart, a 
restoration of the Union, Mr. Lincoln had yielded until 
further concessions would have implied ductility or 
imbecility, until every sentiment of dignity and of self- 
respect would have uttered an indignant protest. He 
then well knew that he must assert himself, or be an 
unimportant factor in the body-politic in the struggle for 
the life and preservation of the nation; and rising at 
length to the full height of his matchless self-reliance 
and independence, he exclaimed : " This state of things 
shall continue no longer. I will show them at the other 
end of the Avenue whether I am President or not ! " 

From this moment he never again hesitated or 
wavered as to his course. From this moment he was 
recognized as the Executive Chief and Constitutional 
Commander of the Armies and Navy of the United 
States. His opponents and would-be masters were now, 
for the most part, silenced ; but they hated him all the 
more cordially. 

A short time before the fall of Vicksburg, great dis- 
satisfaction became rife at General Grant's tardiness in 
moving on the enemy's works. There was a pretty 
general feeling in favor of relieving Grant from his com- 
mand, and appointing some one who would make short 
work of that formidable stronghold of the enemy and 
relieve the people from their state of anxiety. Mr. 
Lincoln had great faith in General Grant. He was 
being constantly importuned and beset by the leading 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 185 

politicians to turn Grant out of the command. One day 
about this time he said to me, "I fear I have made 
Senator Wade, of Ohio, my enemy for life." " How?" 
I asked. " Wade was here just now urging me to dis- 
miss Grant, and in response to something he said I 
remarked, ' Senator, that reminds me of a story.' ' Yes, 
yes ! ' Wade petulantly replied, it is with you, sir, all 
story, story ! You are the father of every military blunder 
that has been made during the war. You are on your 
road to hell, sir, with this government, by your obstinacy ; 
and you are not a mile off this minute.' I good-naturedly 
said to him : ' Senator, that is just about the distance 
from here to the Capitol, is it not?' He was very 
angry, and grabbed up his hat and cane and went 
away." 

Lincoln then continued to say: "To show to what 
extent this sentiment prevails, even Washburne, who has 
always claimed Grant as his by right of discovery, has 
deserted him, and demands his removal; and I really 
believe I am the only friend Grant has left. Grant 
advises me [Mr. Lincoln had never seen General Grant 
up to that time] that he will take Vicksburg by the 
Fourth of July, and I believe he will do it ; and he shall 
have the chance." 

Had it not been for the stoic firmness of Mr. Lincoln 
in standing by Grant, which resulted in the speedy 
capture of Vicksburg, it is hard to predict what would 
have been the consequences. If nothing worse, certain 
it is that President Lincoln would have been deposed, 



1 86 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

and a dictator would have been placed in his stead as 
chief executive until peace could be restored to the 
nation by separation or otherwise. Mr. Lincoln thus 
expressed himself shortly before his death : " If I had 
done as my Washington friends, who fight battles with 
their tongues at a safe distance from the enemy, would 
have had me do, Grant, who proved himself so great a 
captain, would never have been heard of again." 

That Mr. Lincoln sought to interfere as little as 
possible with the military affairs after General Grant took 
charge of the army will be shown by the following 
letter : 

EXECUTIVE MANSION, 
WASHINGTON, April 30, 1864. 

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GRANT, Not expecting to see 
you before the spring campaign opens, I wish to express in 
this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done up 
to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars 
of your plan I neither know nor seek to know. You are 
vigilant and self-reliant, and [I put no] restraints or con- 
straints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great 
disaster or capture of any of our men in great numbers shall 
be avoided, I know that these points are less likely to 
escape your attention than they would be mine. If there 
be anything wanting which is within my power to give, do 
not fail to let me know it And now with a brave army and 
a just cause, may God sustain you ! 

Yours very truly, 
(Signed) A. LINCOLN. 

I am not aware that there was ever a serious discord 
or misunderstanding between Mr. Lincoln and General 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. l8/ 

Grant except on a single occasion. From the com- 
mencement of the struggle, Lincoln's policy was to break 
the back-bone of the Confederacy by depriving it of 
its principal means of subsistence. Cotton was its 
vital aliment ; deprive it of this, and the rebellion must 
necessarily collapse. The Hon. Elihu B. Washburne 
from the outset was opposed to any contraband traffic 
with the Confederates. Lincoln had given permits and 
passes through the lines to two persons, Mr. Joseph 
Mattox, of Maryland, and General Singleton, of Illinois, 
to enable them to bring cotton and other Southern 
products from Virginia. Washburne heard of it, called 
immediately on Mr. Lincoln, and after remonstrating 
with him on the impropriety of such a demarche, threat- 
ened to have General Grant countermand the permits 
if they were not revoked. Naturally, both became 
excited. Lincoln declared that he did not believe 
General Grant would take upon himself the responsibility 
of such an act. " I will show you, sir, I will show you 
whether Grant will do it or not," responded Mr. Wash- 
burne as he abruptly withdrew. 

By the next boat, subsequent to this interview, the 
Congressman left Washington for the headquarters of 
General Grant. He returned shortly afterward to the 
city, and so likewise did Mattox and Singleton. Grant 
had countermanded the permits. 

The following important order relative to trade- 
permits was issued by Lieutenant- General Grant about 
this time : 



1 88 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

HEADQUARTERS ARMIES OF THE U. S. 
CITY POINT, VA., March 10, 1865. 

Special Orders, No. 48. 

i . The operations on all Treasury trade-permits, and all 
other trade-permits and licenses to trade, by whomsoever 
granted, within the State of Virginia, except that portion 
known as the Eastern Shore, and the States of North 
Carolina and South Carolina, and that portion of the 
State of Georgia immediately bordering on the Atlantic, 
including the City of Savannah, are hereby suspended until 
further orders. All contracts and agreements made under or 
by virtue of any trade-permit or license within any of said 
States or parts of States, during the existence of this order, 
will be deemed void, and the subject of such contracts or 
agreements will be seized by the military authorities for the 
benefit of the government, whether the same is at the time 
of such contracts or agreements within their reach or at any 
time thereafter comes within their reach, either by the opera- 
tions of war or the acts of the contracting parties or their 
agents. The delivery of all goods contracted for and not 
delivered before the publication of this order is prohibited. 

Supplies of all kinds are prohibited from passing into any 
of said States or parts of States, except such as are absolutely 
necessary for the wants of those living within the lines of 
actual military occupation, and under no circumstances will 
military commanders allow them to pass beyond the lines 
they actually hold. 

By command of Lieutenant-General Grant. 

T. S. BOWERS, 
Assistant Adjutant-General. 



Under all the circumstances it was a source of exulta- 
tion to Mr. Washburne and his friends, and of corres- 
ponding surprise and mortification to the President. 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 189 

But he suppressed the resentment to which General 
Grant's conduct might naturally have given rise, and, 
with the equanimity and self-control that was habitual 
with him, merely remarked : " I wonder when General 
Grant changed his mind on this subject. He was the 
first man, after the commencement of the war, to grant 
a permit for the passage of cotton through the lines, 
and that to his own father." In referring afterwards to 
the subject, he said : " It made me feel my insignificance 
keenly at the moment; but if my friends Washburne, 
Henry Wilson, and others derive pleasure from so 
unworthy a victory over me, I leave them to its full 
enjoyment." 1 This ripple on the otherwise unruffled 
current of their intercourse did not disturb the per- 
sonal relations between Lincoln and Grant; but there 
was little cordiality between the President and Messrs. 
Washburne and Wilson afterwards. 

Mr. Lincoln, when asked if he had seen the Wade- 
Davis manifesto, the Phillips speech* etc., replied : " No, 

* In a speech at Cooper Institute in New York City, on the 
Presidential election (1864), Wendell Phillips said that for thirty 
years he had labored to break up the Union in the interest of jus- 
tice, and now he labored to save it in the same interest. The same 
curse that he invoked on the old Union he would invoke on a new 
Union if it is not founded on justice to the negro. " Science 
must either demonstrate that the negro is not a man, or politics 
must accord to him equality at the ballot-box and in offices of 
trust." He judged Mr. Lincoln by his words and deeds, and so 
judging he was " unwilling to trust Abraham Lincoln with the 
future of the country. Let it be granted that Mr. Lincoln is 
pledged to Liberty and Union ; but this pledge was wrung out of 
him by the Cleveland movement, and was a mere electioneering 
pledge. Mr. Lincoln is a politician. Politicians are like the 



190 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

I have not seen them, nor do I care to see them. I 
have seen enough to satisfy me that I am a failure, not 
only in the opinion of the people in rebellion, but of 
many distinguished politicians of my own party. But 
time will show whether I am right or they are right, and 
I am content to abide its decision. I have enough 
to look after without giving much of my time to the 



bones of a horse's fore-shoulder, not a straight one in it. A 
reformer is like a Doric column of iron, straight, strong, and 
immovable. It is a momentous responsibility to trust Mr. Lincoln 
where we want a Doric column to stand stern and strong for the 
Nation. ... I am an Abolitionist, but I am also a citizen watch- 
ful of constitutional Liberty ; and I say if President Lincoln is 
inaugurated on the votes of Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas, 
every citizen is bound to resist him. Are you willing to sacrifice 
the constitutional rights of seventy years for your fondness for an 
individual ? " 

Mr. Phillips then quoted some opinions from prominent men in 
the Republican party. " A man in the field said, ' The re-election 
of Abraham Lincoln will be a disaster.' Another said, 'The 
re-election of Abraham Lincoln will be national destruction.' 
Said another, 'There is no government at Washington, noth- 
ing there.' Winter Davis of Maryland testifies to his [Lincoln's] 
inability. Said another, ' That proclamation will not stand a 
week before the Supreme Court ; but I had rather trust it there 
than Abraham Lincoln to make the judges.' Mr. Lincoln has 
secured his success just as the South used to secure its suc- 
cess. He says to the radicals of the Republican party, ' I am 
going to nominate myself at Baltimore : risk a division of the 
party if you dare! 'and the radicals submitted. Political Massa- 
chusetts submitted, and is silent ; but Antislavery Massachusetts 
calls to the people to save their own cause." Mr. Phillips said 
he "wanted by free speech to let Abraham Lincoln know that we 
are stronger than Abraham Lincoln, and that he is a servant to 
obey us. I distrust the man who uses whole despotism in Massa- 
chusetts and half despotism in South Carolina, and that man is 
Abraham Lincoln." 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. IQI 

consideration of the subject of who shall be my successor 
in office. The position is not an easy one ; and the 
occupant, whoever he may be, for the next four years, 
will have little leisure to pluck a thorn or plant a rose 
in his own pathway." It was urged that this opposition 
must be embarrassing to his Administration, as well 
as damaging to the party. He replied : " Yes, that is 
true ; but our friends Wade, Davis, Phillips, and others 
are hard to please. I am not capable of doing so. I 
cannot please them without wantonly violating not only 
my oath, but the most vital principles upon which our 
government was founded. As to those who, like Wade 
and the rest, see fit to depreciate my policy and cavil 
at my official acts, I shall not complain of them. I 
accord them the utmost freedom of speech and liberty 
of the press, but shall not change the policy I have 
adopted in the full belief that I am right. I feel on 
this subject as an old Illinois farmer once expressed 
himself while eating cheese. He was interrupted in the 
midst of his repast by the entrance of his son, who 
exclaimed, ' Hold on, dad ! there 's skippers in that 
cheese you 're eating ! ' ' Never mind, Tom,' said he, 
as he kept on munching his cheese, ' if they can stand it 
I can.' " 

On another occasion Mr. Lincoln said to me: "If 
the unworthy ambition of politicians and the jealousy 
that exists in the army could be repressed, and all 
unite in a common aim and a common endeavor, the 
rebellion would soon be crushed." He conversed with 



IQ2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

me freely and repeatedly on the subject of the unfairness 
and intemperance of his opponents in Congress, of the 
project of a dictatorship, etc. The reverses at Fred- 
ericksburg and Chancellorsville Mr. Lincoln fully com- 
prehended ; and he believed them to have been caused by 
the absence of a proper support of Burnside and Hooker, 
prompted by the jealousies of other superior officers. 

The appointment of a general to the supreme com- 
mand of the Army of the Potomac, made vacant by the 
resignation of General Burnside, became a question of 
urgent import. General Rosecrans was the choice of 
the Secretary of War. The President regarded it as 
inexpedient to make the appointment outside the gen- 
eral officers serving in the Army of the Potomac. Hav- 
ing little preference in the selection of a successor 
to General Burnside, Mr. Lincoln, after advisement, 
adopted the views of the military department of the 
government, and offered the chief command to General 
Reynolds. The latter, however, declined to accept the 
trust, unless a wider latitude of action were granted him 
than had hitherto been accorded to officers occupying 
this high post. 

The reverses in the field already referred to having 
occurred since General McClellan was relieved from 
the chief command of the Union forces, there now arose 
among his old companions-in-arms, and in the army 
generally, a clamor for his reinstatement as Commander 
of the Army of the Potomac. The propriety of such 
action was made the subject of a Cabinet consultation, 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 193 

which resulted in the rejection of an expedient so 
manifestly looking towards a dictatorship. 

A strong influence was now exerted by the immediate 
friends of General Hooker in behalf of his appointment 
as Commander-in-Chief, some of them being prompted 
by personal ambition, others by even less worthy 
motives. These partisans of a worthy and deserving 
officer, whose aspirations were known to be entirely 
within the sphere of military preferment, united their 
forces with a powerful political coterie, having for their 
chief object the elevation of Mr. Chase to the Presidency 
upon the expiration of Mr. Lincoln's first term. It was 
believed by this faction that Hooker, in the event of 
his bringing the war to a successful conclusion, being 
himself unambitious of office, might not be unwilling to 
lend his prestige and influence to a movement in favor 
of that distinguished statesman as the successor of Mr. 
Lincoln in the Presidency. Up to the present time the 
war had been conducted rather at the dictation of a 
political bureaucracy than in accordance purely with 
considerations of military strategy. Hooker was ap- 
pointed by the President under a full knowledge of his 
political affinities. 

In conversation with Mr. Lincoln one night about the 
time General Burnside was relieved, I was urging upon 
him the necessity of looking well to the fact that there 
was a scheme on foot to depose him, and to appoint a 
military dictator in his stead. He laughed, and said : 
"I think, for a man of accredited courage, you are the 
13 



194 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

most panicky person I ever knew; you can see more 
dangers to me than all the other friends I have. You 
are all the time exercised about somebody taking my 
life, murdering me ; and now you have discovered a 
new danger : now you think the people of this great 
government are likely to turn me out of office. I do 
not fear this from the people any more than I fear 
assassination from an individual. Now, to show you 
my appreciation of what my French friends would call 
a coup d'tiat, let me read you a letter I have written to 
General Hooker, whom I have just appointed to the 
command of the Army of the Potomac." He then 
opened the drawer of his table and took out and read 
the letter to General Hooker, which accompanied his 
commission as Commander of the Army of the Potomac, 
of which letter the following is a copy : 

(PRIVATE.) 

EXECUTIVE MANSION, 
WASHINGTON, D. C., Jan. 26, 1863. 
Major-General Hooker : 

GENERAL, I have placed you at the head of the Army 
of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon what 
appears to me sufficient reasons ; and yet I think it best for 
you to know that there are some things in regard to which 
I am not quite satisfied with you. 

I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier, which of 
course I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with 
your profession, in which you are right. You have con- 
fidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indispens- 
able, quality. You are ambitious, which, within reasonable 
bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 195 

during General Burnside's command of the army you have 
taken counsel of your ambition solely, and thwarted him as 
much as you could ; in which you did a great wrong to the 
country and to a most meritorious and honorable brother 
officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your 
saying that both the country and the army needed a dictator. 
Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have 
given you the command. Only those generals who gain suc- 
cess can set themselves up as dictators. What I ask of you 
is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The 
government will support you to the utmost of its ability, 
which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do 
for all its commanders. 

I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse 
into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding 
confidence from him, will now turn upon you ; and I shall 
assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor 
Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of 
an army while such a spirit prevails in it. 

And now, beware of rashness, but with energy and 
sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories. 
Yours very truly, 

A. LINCOLN. 

Some little time afterwards, in referring with much 
feeling to this letter, General Hooker declared : " It 
was just such a letter as a father might have addressed 
to his son. It was a great rebuke, however, to me at 
the time." 

The question of a dictatorship had been everywhere 
ventilated. The President had heard a great deal about 
it ; but he treated the whole subject as a pure vagary, 
not apprehending any serious danger from it. At first 



196 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

it may have given him some annoyance ; but it soon 
ceased to disturb him, and ultimately it became the 
source of no little mirth and amusement to him. I was 
present upon one occasion when a party of the intimate 
friends of Mr. Lincoln were assembled at the White 
House, and the project of a dictatorship was the topic 
of conversation. The President gave full play to the 
exuberance of his humor and his sense of the ridiculous, 
entirely banishing the anxieties and apprehensions of 
such of his friends as were inclined to regard the ques- 
tion from a more serious point of view. " I will tell 
you," said he, "a story which I think illustrates the 
situation. 

"Some years ago a couple of emigrants from the 
Emerald Isle were wending their way westward in search 
of employment as a means of subsistence. The shades 
of night had already closed in upon them as they found 
themselves in the vicinity of a large sheet of standing 
water, more vulgarly called a big pond. They were 
greeted upon their approach by a symphony of bull- 
frogs, which was the only manifestation of life in the 
darkness that surrounded them, literally ' making night 
hideous' with noise. This sort of harmony was alto- 
gether new to them, and for a moment they were greatly 
terrified at the diabolic din. Instinctively and resolutely 
grasping their shillalahs, under the impression that Beel- 
zebub or some of his deputies was about to dispute 
their farther progress, they cautiously advanced toward the 
spot from whence the strange concert proceeded. The 



HIS UNSWERVING FIDELITY TO PURPOSE. 197 

frogs, however, alarmed at their approaching footsteps, 
had beat a precipitate retreat, and taken refuge in their 
watery hiding-places, and all was as silent as the grave. 
After waiting for some seconds in breathless suspense for 
the appearance of the enemy, not a sound being audible, 
in great disappointment and disgust at the loss of so 
favorable an opportunity for a free fight, one of our 
heroes, seizing his companion by the coat-sleeve, whis- 
pered confidentially in his ear : ' Faith, Pat, and it 's my 
deliberate opinion that it was nothing but a blasted 
noise ! ' " 

Pursuing the topic in the same humorous vein, Mr. 
Lincoln again convulsed his auditors by relating the 
following story : 

" A benighted wayfarer having lost his way somewhere 
amidst the wilds of our Northwestern frontiers, the 
embarrassments of his position were increased by a furi- 
ous tempest which suddenly burst upon him. To add 
to the discomforts of the situation his horse had given 
out, leaving him exposed to all the dangers of the pitiless 
storm. The peals of thunder were terrific, the frequent 
flashes of lightning affording the only guide to the route 
he was pursuing as he resolutely trudged onward leading 
his jaded steed. The earth seemed fairly to tremble 
beneath him in the war of elements. One bolt threw 
him suddenly upon his knees. Our traveller was not a 
prayerful man, but finding himself involuntarily brought 
to an attitude of devotion, he addressed himself to the 
Throne of Grace in the following prayer for his deliver- 



198 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

ance : ' O God ! hear my prayer this time, for Thou 
knowest it is not often that I call upon Thee. And, O 
Lord ! if it is all the same to Thee, give us a little more 
light and a little less noise ! ' I hope," said Mr. Lincoln, 
pointing the moral of the anecdote, " that we may have 
a much stronger disposition manifested hereafter, on the 
part of our civilian warriors, to unite in suppressing the 
rebellion, and a little less noise as to how and by whom 
the chief executive office shall be administered." 



CHAPTER XIII. 

HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 

THE character of no statesman in all the history of 
the world has been more generally or more 
completely misunderstood than that of Abraham Lincoln. 
Many writers describe him as a mere creature of circum- 
stances floating like a piece of driftwood on the current of 
events ; and about the only attribute of statesmanship they 
concede to him is a sort of instinctive divination of the 
popular feeling at a given period, and on a given subject. 
They do not thus dwarf Mr. Lincoln in set phrase or 
formal propositions, but that is the logic and effect of 
their narratives. Some of these writers go even further, 
and represent him as an almost unconscious instrument 
in the hands of the Almighty, about as irresponsible as 
the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night which 
went before the Israelites through the wilderness. 

The truth is, that Mr. Lincoln was at once the ablest 
and the most adroit politician of modern times. In all 
the history of the world I can recall no example of a 
great leader, having to do with a people in any degree 
free, who himself shaped and guided events to the same 
extent, unless it was Julius Caesar. Mr. Lincoln was not 
the creature of circumstances. He made circumstances 



2OO RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

to suit the necessities of his own situation. He was less 
influenced by the inferior minds around him than was 
Washington, Jefferson, or Jackson. His policy was inva- 
riably formed by his own judgment, and it seldom took 
even the slightest color from the opinions of others, how- 
ever decided. In this originality and independence of 
understanding he resembled somewhat the great William 
of Orange. 

Mr. Lincoln was supposed at the outset of his Admin- 
istration to have placed himself, as it were, under the 
tutelage of William H. Seward ; and later he was gener- 
ally believed to have abjectly endured the almost insult- 
ing domination of Edwin M. Stanton. But I say without 
the slightest fear of contradiction, that neither Mr. Seward 
nor Mr. Stanton, great men as they both were, ever 
succeeded either in leading or misleading Mr. Lincoln 
in a single instance. The Administration was not a 
week old when Mr. Seward had found his level, and the 
larger purposes, dangerous and revolutionary, with which 
Mr. Stanton entered the War Department, were baffled 
and defeated before he had time to fashion the instru- 
ments of usurpation. Consciously or unconsciously, Mr. 
Seward and Mr. Stanton, like others, wrought out the 
will of the great man who had called them to his 
side to be appropriately used in furtherance of plans 
far greater and more comprehensive than they themselves 
had conceived. 

I shall not linger here to present instances of this 
subordination of high officials and party leaders to Mr. 



HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 2OI 

Lincoln ; they may be gleaned without number from the 
published histories of the times. I shall content myself 
with recounting some of his relations with the illustrious, 
and at that time powerful, Democratic captain, George 
B. McClellan. 

General McClellan was as bitterly disliked by the 
politicians of the country as he was cordially loved by 
the troops under his command. Whatever may be said 
by the enemies of this unsuccessful general, it must be 
remembered that he took command of the Army of the 
Potomac when it was composed of a mass of undisci- 
plined and poorly armed men. Yet after fighting some 
of the hardest battles of the war, he left it, in less than 
eighteen months, a splendid military organization, well 
prepared for the accomplishment of the great achieve- 
ments afterward attained by General Grant. At the 
time McClellan took command of that army, the South 
was powerful in all the elements of successful warfare. 
It had much changed when General Grant took com- 
mand. Long strain had greatly weakened and exhausted 
the forces and resources of the South. There had come 
a change from the former buoyant bravery of hope to 
the desperate bravery of doubtful success; and it may 
well be questioned whether any commander could have 
crushed the rebellion in the time during which General 
McClellan was at the head of the army. That he lacked 
aggressiveness must be admitted by his most ardent 
admirers. His greatness as a defensive general pre- 
cluded this quality. 7 



2O2 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

At one time when things seemed at a standstill, and 
no aggressive movements could be induced by the 
anxious Washington authorities, Mr. Lincoln went to 
General McClellan's headquarters to have a talk with 
him; but for some reason he was unable to get an 
audience with the general. He returned to the White 
House much disturbed at his failure to see the com- 
mander of the Union forces, and immediately sent for 
two other general officers, to have a consultation. On 
their arrival, he told them he must have some one to 
talk to about the situation ; and as he had failed to see 
General McClellan, he had sent for them to get their 
views as to the possibility or probability of soon com- 
mencing active operations with the Army of the Potomac. 
He said he desired an expression of their opinion about 
the matter, for his was, that, if something were not done 
and done soon, the bottom would fall out of the whole 
thing ; and he intended, if General McClellan did not 
want to use the Army, to " borrow " it from him, pro- 
vided he could see how it could be made to do some- 
thing ; for, said he, " If McClellan can't fish, he ought 
to cut bait at a time like this." 

Mr. Lincoln never regarded General McClellan with 
personal or political jealousy. He never feared him. 
He once profoundly trusted him, and to the very last he 
hoped to employ his genius and his popularity in the 
deliverance of their common country. His unfailing 
sagacity saw in him a rising general, who should be at 
once Democratic and patriotic, the readiest possible 



HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 203 

instrument of harmonizing the North, unifying the senti- 
ment of the army, crushing the rebellion, and restoring 
the Union. Having, then, no thought of imparting to 
the war any other object or result than the restoration of 
the Union, pure and simple, and this being likewise 
McClellan's view, the harmony and confidence that 
obtained between them were plants of easy growth. 
The rise of discord, the political intrigues, Democratic 
and Republican, which steadily aimed to separate these 
noble characters, who were as steadily, of their own 
impulses, tending toward each other, these are mat- 
ters of public history. Through it all, Mr. Lincoln 
earnestly endeavored to support McClellan in the field ; 
and the diversion of men and the failure of supplies 
were never in any degree due to a desire upon his part to 
cripple the Democratic general. The success of this 
Democratic general was the one thing necessary to 
enable the President to hold in check the aggressive 
leaders of his own party, to restore the Union with the 
fewest sacrifices, and to complete the triumph of his 
Administration- without dependence upon interests and 
factions which he seriously and constantly dreaded. 

One of the most striking instances of Mr. Lincoln's 
great moral courage and self-reliance occurred just after 
the second battle of Bull Run. The loss of this battle 
caused great consternation, not only in Washington, but 
throughout the whole country. Everything was thrown 
into confusion. All the Cabinet officers, except Secre- 
tary Welles and Secretary Seward (the latter being 



204 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

absent at the time), signed a protest denouncing the 
conduct of McClellan and demanding his immediate 
dismissal from the service, which protest, however, 
was not delivered to the President. The feeling of 
indignation was very general throughout the country 
against McClellan, and it was greatly intensified by 
exaggerated reports of his supposed misconduct. Not- 
withstanding this deplorable state of things, McClellan 
was appointed in command of the forces at Washington. 
At a Cabinet meeting held three days after this battle, 
the members first learned of this appointment. They 
were thunderstruck at the announcement, and great 
regret was expressed. Mr. Stanton, with some excite- 
ment, remarked that no such order had issued from the 
War Department. The President then said with great 
calmness, but with some degree of emphasis, " No, Mr. 
Secretary, the order was mine ; and I will be respon- 
sible for it to the country." By way of explanation, he 
said something had to be done; but there did not 
appear to be any one to do it, and he therefore took 
the responsibility on himself. He then continued to 
say that McClellan had the confidence of the troops 
beyond any other officer, and could, under the circum- 
stances, more speedily and effectively reorganize them 
and put them into fighting trim than any other general. 
" This is what is now wanted most ; and these," said 
the President, "were my reasons for placing him in 
command." 

Mr. Lincoln well knew the danger, and was appre- 



HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 205 

hensive of losing perhaps all except one of his Cabinet 
members by this action ; but he felt at the same time 
deeper apprehension of danger to the whole country if ^f 
the army were not immediately reorganized and fitted 
for instant action. He knew he could replace his Cabi- 
net from the patriotic men of his acquaintance, but he 
feared he could not replace the army in statu quo unless 
he took the risk of losing them. He fully realized, as 
he said, that nearly all the trouble had grown out of 
military jealousies, and that it was time for some one to 
assert and exercise power. He caused personal con- 
siderations to be sacrificed for the public good, and in 
doing so he subdued his own personal feelings in the 
spirit of unselfish patriotism. 8 

Between Francis P. Blair and Mr. Lincoln there 
existed from first to last a confidential relationship as 
close as that maintained by Mr. Lincoln with any other 
man. To Mr. Blair he almost habitually revealed him- 
self upon delicate and grave subjects more fully than to 
any other. When he had conceived an important but 
difficult plan, he was almost certain, before giving it 
practical form, to try it by the touchstone of Mr. Blair's 
fertile and acute mind. Mr. Blair understood Mr. Lin- 
coln's conception of the importance of McClellan to the 
President and to the country, and, like the President 
himself, he realized that McClellan's usefulness, unless 
destroyed by some disaster in the field, could be 
abridged only by some needless misunderstanding be- 
tween the two. He knew the stubborn spirit of the 



2O6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

I Democratic party from long experience in it and with 
it; and he early foresaw the tremendous influence 
which would inevitably be brought to bear on McClellan 
to separate him from Lincoln. It was because he fore- 
saw this that he desired to place nearest to General 
McClellan in the field some one who, having the com- 
plete confidence of both, would form a connecting link 
which could not be broken. 

To this end, about the time General Pleasanton was 
appointed brigadier- general, and assigned to report to 
General McClellan, Mr. Blair sought a conference with 
him and said : " You are going to McClellan. You will 
have confidential relations with him. I like him, and I 
want him to succeed; but no general can succeed 
without proper relations with the Administration. Say 
to him from me that Frank P. Blair, Jr., can be of great 
service to him. I shall have access to the Administra- 
tion, and can do much to keep McClellan right. Say to 
him that he ought to ask for the assignment of .Blair to 
him, and to make him his chief of staff. Now, Pleasan- 
ton, when you get down in Virginia, say this to Mac, 
and telegraph me the result." 

It was then agreed that the communication should be 
in cipher. If favorable, " The weather is fair; " if 
otherwise, " The weather is fair, but portends a storm." 
Mr. Blair's message was given to McClellan, and Gene- 
ral Pleasanton saw that it made an impression ; but 
General McClellan faltered, subject, no doubt, to some 
of the influences that Mr. Blair had foreseen. After 



HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 

three days' deliberation, the " bad weather " was indi- 
cated to Mr. Blair. 

In the campaign for Presidential honors in 1864, Gene- 
ral McClellan, in his letter of acceptance, repudiated the 
obvious meaning of the Democratic platform framed for 
his candidacy. The Convention demanded " a cessation of 
hostilities with a view of an ultimate convention of States." 
To this McClellan responded : " So soon as it is clear, 
or even probable, that our present adversaries are ready 
for peace on the basis of the Union, we should exhaust 
all the resources of statesmanship ... to secure such a 
peace." In this he stood precisely with Lincoln. The 
sentiments of the representatives of the Democratic 
party in Convention assembled seemed to be : Peace 
first, and Union would inevitably follow. The sentiments 
of the respective chosen party standard-bearers were : 
Union first, that peace might follow. 

There was at no time during the campaign a reason- 
able doubt of the election of Mr. Lincoln over General 
McClellan. Early in this campaign, on going into Mr. 
Lincoln's office one night, I found him in a more gleeful 
humor than usual. He was alone, and said, " I am glad 
you have come in. Lamon, do you know that ' we have 
met the enemy, and they are ourn ? ' I think the cabal 
of obstructionists ' am busted ! ' I feel certain that if I 
live, I am going to be re-elected. Whether I deserve to 
be or not, it is not for me to say ; but on the score even 
of remunerative chances for speculative service, I now 
am inspired with the hope that our disturbed country 



208 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

further requires the valuable services of your humble 
servant. 'Jordan has been a hard road to travel,' but 
I feel now that, notwithstanding the enemies I have made 
and the faults I have committed, I '11 be dumped .on the 
right side of that stream. I hope, however, that I may 
never have another four years of such anxiety, tribulation, 
and abuse. My only ambition is and has been to put 
down the rebellion and restore peace ; after which I 
want to resign my office, go abroad, take some rest, 
study foreign governments, see something of foreign life, 
and in my old age die in peace with the good will of 
all of God's creatures." 

About two weeks before the election, Mr. Lincoln 
began to consider how to make the result most decisive. 
He again recurred to McClellan, and again consulted 
Mr. Blair. It seemed that neither of these sagacious 
men could entirely free himself from the thought that in 
one way or another General McClellan, with the Demo- 
cratic party at his back, was somehow to contribute a 
mighty blow toward the suppression of the rebellion and 
the pacification of the country. With the respect which 
they both entertained for General McClellan's intelli- 
gence, with the faith they both had in his patriotism, 
they did not doubt that, seeing as they did the utter 
impossibility of his own election to the Presidency, he 
would be willing, if the way were graciously opened to 
him, to save his party from the humiliation of a crushing 
defeat, to use his remaining power to restore the Union 
without further unnecessary bloodshed, and to tranquil- 



HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN". 2OQ 

lize the country without more needless and heedless 
political strife. 

Mr. Lincoln said to Mr. Blair : " I shall be re-elected. 
No one can doubt it. I do not doubt it, nor do you. 
It is patent to all. General McClellan must see it as 
plainly as we do. Why should he not act upon it, and 
help me to give peace to this distracted country ? Would 
it not be a glorious thing for the Union cause and the 
country, now that my re-election is certain, for him to 
decline to run, favor my election, and make certain a 
speedy termination of this bloody war? Don't you 
believe that such a course upon his part would unify 
public partisan sentiment, and give a decisive and fatal 
blow to all opposition to the re-establishment of peace 
in the country? I think he is man enough and patriot 
enough to do it. Do you? You have been his friend 
and mine. Will you try this last appeal to General 
McClellan's patriotism ? " 

Mr. Blair heartily assented; and, as the result of 
their consultation, Mr. Lincoln wrote a most remarkable 
autograph letter to his rival, suggesting that he retire 
from the canvass and allow Mr. Lincoln's election, then 
visibly impending, to be as nearly unanimous as might 
be. The compensations to General McClellan and his 
party for the timely relinquishment of a mere shadow 
were to be McClellan's immediate elevation to be Gene- 
ral of the Army, the appointment of his father-in-law, 
Marcy, to be major-general, and the very substantial 
recognition of the Democracy which would necessarily 

have followed these arrangements. 
M 



210 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

This letter containing these distinct propositions was 
placed in Mr. Blair's hands, and by him delivered to 
General McClellan.' It was the attempted stroke of a 
master. Had it succeeded, had the propositions con- 
tained in the letter been accepted, Mr. Lincoln might 
have lived to prevent the follies and the crimes of recon- 
struction, and to bless his country with an era of peace 
and good -will, thus preventing those long years of 
ferocious political contention over the results of the war 
which followed its conclusion and his murder. 

What the great soldier might have done, if left alone 
to determine for himself the proper course of action in 
the premises, can never be known. 

The letter was submitted by General McClellan to 
some of his party friends in New York, and its wise and 
statesmanlike propositions were declined. On the morn- 
ing of the election he resigned his commission. His 
party was routed, and upon the death of Mr. Lincoln 
was opened the new Iliad of partisan conflict and recon- 
struction woes. 

Mr. Lincoln fearlessly struck out and boldly pursued, 
in situations the most exacting, capital plans, of which 
none knew except those who might be absolutely ne- 
cessary to their execution. If he failed in the patriotic 
objects which he proposed to accomplish by coalition 
with McClellan, and was ultimately compelled to achieve 
them by less Napoleonic and more tedious methods, the 
splendid conception and the daring attempt were his 
alone, and prove him one of the most masterful politi- 



HIS TRUE RELATIONS WITH McCLELLAN. 211 

cians of this or any recent age. The division of the 
Roman world between the members of the Triumvirate 
was not comparable to this proposal of his, because the 
Roman was a smaller world than the American, and it 
was partitioned among three, while this was only to be 
halved. 

More than a quarter of a century has passed, and still 
the press teems with inquiries concerning the relations 
between Lincoln and McClellan, with accusation and 
defense by the literary partisans of each. Had the 
general seen fit to respond to the magnanimous tender 
of the President, their names would have been equally 
sacred hi every American household, and their fame 
would have been united, like their parties and their 
country, by an act of patriotic statesmanship unparalleled 
in the history of this world. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

HIS MAGNANIMITY. 

MR. LINCOLN regarded all public offices within 
his gift as a sacred trust, to be administered 
solely for the people, and as in no sense a fund upon 
which he could draw for the payment of private ac- 
counts. He was exempt from the frailties common to 
most men, and he cast aside the remembrance of all 
provocations for which he had cause to nourish resent- 
ment. Here is a notable instance : A rather distin- 
guished man had been for years a respected acquaintance ; 
his son, who was in the army, was convicted of a grave 
offence, the penalty of which might have been death. 
Lincoln, at the solicitation of the father, pardoned the 
son. Time passed on until the political campaign of 
1864, when a secret military organization was formed in 
the State of Illinois to oppose the re-election of Lincoln, 
and that father was at the head of this secret organiza- 
tion. Some time after the election, the filling of an 
important bureau office in the Treasury Department was 
under advisement. Among the applicants was an old 
acquaintance of Mr. Lincoln, who was strongly recom- 
mended by. his friends. After a pause, Mr. Lincoln 



HIS MAGNANIMITY. 21$ 

thoughtfully said, " Well, gentlemen, whatever you may 

think, I never thought Mr. had any more than an 

average amount of ability when we were young men 
together, I really didn't;" and then, after a short 
silence, he added : " But this is a matter of opinion, and 
I suppose he thought just the same about me ; he had 
reason to, and here I am ! I guess we shall have to 
give him some good place, but not this one. This posi- 
tion requires a man of peculiar ability to fill it. I have 
been thinking seriously of giving it to a man who does 
not like me very well, and who sought to defeat my 
renomination. I can't afford to take notice of and 
punish every person who has seen fit to oppose my 
election. We want a competent man for this place. I 
know of no one who could perform the duties of this 

most responsible office better than ." calling him by 

name. And this ingrate father got the appointment ! 

At another time there was an interview at the White 
House between a prominent politician of New York and 
Mr. Lincoln, in reference to the removal of an office- 
holder in New York. Every reason that could be 
thought of was urged in favor of the removal, and finally 
it was urged that this office-holder abused Mr. Lincoln 
personally. Mr. Lincoln at last got out of patience, and 

ended the interview as follows : " You cannot think 

to be half as mean to me as I know him to be ; but I 
cannot run this thing upon the theory that every office- 
holder must think I am the greatest man in the nation, 
and I will not." The man named, notwithstanding his 



214 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

meanness to Mr. Lincoln, remained in office as long as 
Mr. Lincoln was President. 

So much of Mr. Lincoln's time was taken up with 
questions of office-seeking and office-holding, when he 
felt every moment should be devoted to plans to avert 
the perils then threatening the country, that he once 
compared himself to " a man so busy in letting rooms in 
one end of his house that he cannot stop to put out the 
fire that is burning the other." 

Mr. Lincoln was an ambitious man, but he desired 
power less for the sake of prestige or authority than for 
the opportunities it presented of being useful and bene- 
ficent in its exercise. Eagerly as he sought the approval 
of his fellow-citizens where this could be attained with- 
out the sacrifice of principle, he was always generous in 
according to others whatever would lead to public ap- 
proval. Immediately after the battle of Gettysburg, Mr. 
Lincoln sat down and wrote a peremptory order to 
General Meade to intercept Lee in his retreat, give him 
battle, and by this bold stroke crush the rebel army and 
end the rebellion. The order was accompanied by a 
friendly note, in which the great patriot said to Meade : 
" The order I inclose is not of record. If you succeed, 
you need not publish the order. If you fail, publish it. 
Then if you succeed, you will have all the credit of the 
movement. If not, I '11 take the responsibility." 

The manifestation of popular admiration and esteem 
as the people's choice for the highest position within 
their gift, Mr. Lincoln most highly valued, while his self- 



HIS MAGNANIMITY, 



2I 5 



reliance and his amour propre led him at times to look 
upon favors bestowed upon him as a matter of personal 
right, as a consideration due to himself individually. 
With all this, his love of country was his paramount 
incentive. There was no period in the progress of the 
war at which he would not willingly have laid down his 
life, if by so doing he could have averted further blood- 
shed, and remanded his fellow-countrymen to the enjoy- 
ment of a restored tranquillity and renewed brotherhood. 
One instance in which this sentiment led him to propose 
an extraordinary act of self-immolation is deserving of 
special mention. 

Mr. Lincoln ardently desired, on the return of peace, 
to exercise his functions as Chief Magistrate of a re- 
united country. This, with the reconstruction of the 
general government, was the darling aspiration of his 
heart, the dearest heritage which the advent of peace 
could bestow. But he subjected this ambition to the 
promptings of a Roman patriotism, and proposed upon 
certain conditions a frank, full, and honest renunciation 
of all claims to the Presidency for a second term ; and 
in declining, under any circumstances, to be a candidate 
for re-election, he would cordially throw his entire influ- 
ence, in so far as he could control it, in behalf of Horatio 
Seymour, then governor of New York, for President. 
The conditions were substantially as follows : Governor 
Seymour was to withdraw his opposition to the draft, use 
his authority and influence as governor in putting down 
the riots in New York, and co-operate in all reasonable 



2i6 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

ways with the Administration in the suppression of the 
Southern rebellion. This proposition was to be made 
through Mr. Thurlow Weed. 

It so happened that at this time Mr. Weed was dis- 
satisfied with the President for something he had either 
done or omitted to do, and had on several occasions 
refused to come to Washington when his presence was 
earnestly desired there. He must now be seen and 
advised with ; he must personally effect the negotiation, 
for he could accomplish it more successfully than any 
other man. How to induce him to come to Washing- 
ton was the question to be solved. " The tinkling of 
Mr. Seward's little bell " had struck terror to the souls 
of evil-doers in the North, and all his dispatches over the 
wires were narrowly watched. It was inexpedient for 
him to use telegraphic facilities of communication except 
upon the most commonplace subjects, since everything 
emanating from him was eagerly scanned and devoured 
by the quid nuncs throughout the country. A special 
messenger was therefore decided on, for affairs were 
now in a precarious condition, and daily, hourly growing 
worse, and time was important. The messenger started 
immediately for New York, but was recalled before 
reaching the train. He was thereupon directed to tele- 
graph in his own name to Mr. Weed, and that gentleman 
arrived in Washington by the next succeeding train. 
After a lengthy interview with the President and Mr. 
Seward, Mr. Weed telegraphed to Governor Seymour 
requesting him to come to Washington on business of 



HIS MAGNANIMITY. 21 7 

urgent importance. This the governor declined to do, 
adding, in his reply, that the distance to and from Wash- 
ington and Albany was precisely the same, and that if 
they wanted to confer with him, to come to Albany, 
where he would be glad to meet them. Mr. Weed, 
upon this, left for that city, and after making a very 
brief stay there, returned to Washington and reported 
" Proposition declined." 

This answer was not expected by Mr. Lincoln, espe- 
cially in time of civil war, and from the governor of the 
great and influential State of New York; and it was 
with sincere and manifest chagrin that the President 
saw himself deterred from making the magnanimous self- 
sacrifice proposed. 

Nothing that affected the interests of the government 
escaped Mr. Lincoln's vigilant thought and careful con- 
sideration. I recollect that on one occasion, just after 
the greenback currency got under full headway of circu- 
lation, I was in his office when the conversation turned 
on the condition of our finances, and on the greenback 
as a representative of money. He was in high spirits 
that day, and seemed to feel happier than I had seen 
him for a long time. I casually asked him if he knew 
how our currency was made. 

"Yes," said he ; "I think it is about as the lawyers 
would say in the following manner, to wit : the en- 
graver strikes off the sheets, passes them over to the 
Register of the currency, who places his earmarks upon 
them, signs them, hands them over to Father Spinner, 



2 1 8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

who then places his wonderful signature at the bottom, 
and turns them over to Mr. Chase, who, as Secretary of 
the United States Treasury, issues them to the public as 
money, and may the good Lord help any fellow that 
does n't take all he can honestly get of them ! " Taking 
from his pocket a five dollar greenback, with a twinkle 
of his eye, he said : " Look at Spinner's signature ! 
Was there ever anything like it on earth ? Yet it is unmis- 
takable ; no one will ever be able to counterfeit it ! " * 

" But," I said, " you certainly don't suppose that 
Spinner actually wrote his name on that bill, do you? " 

" Certainly I do ; why not? " 

I then asked, " How much of this currency have we 
afloat?" 

He remained thoughtful for a moment, and then 
stated the amount. 

I continued : " How many times do you think a man 
can write a signature like Spinner's in the course of 
twenty- four hours ? " 

The beam of hilarity left his countenance at once. 
He put the greenback into his vest pocket, and walked 
the floor ; after awhile he stopped, heaved a long breath 
and said, " This thing frightens me ! " He then rang 
for a messenger, and told him to ask the Secretary of 
the Treasury to please come over to see him. Mr. 
Chase soon put in an appearance. Mr. Lincoln stated 
the cause of his alarm, and asked Mr. Chase to explain 
in detail the modus operandi, the system of checks in 



v\ 




HIS MAGNANIMITY. 2ig 

his office, etc., and a lengthy discussion followed, 
Lincoln contending that there were not sufficient checks 
to afford any degree of safety in the money-making 
department, and Mr. Chase insisting that all the guards 
for protection were afforded that he could devise. " In 
the nature of things," he said, " somebody must be 
trusted in this emergency. You have entrusted me, and 
Mr. Spinner is entrusted with untold millions, and we 
have to trust our subordinates." Words waxed warmer 
than I had ever known them to do between these dis- 
tinguished gentlemen, when Mr. Lincoln feelingly apolo- 
gized by saying, 

" Don't think that I am doubting or could doubt your 
integrity, or that of Mr. Spinner ; nor am I finding fault 
with either of you ; but it strikes me that this thing is all 
wrong, and dangerous. I and the country know you and 
Mr. Spinner, but we don't know your subordinates, who 
are great factors in making this money, and have the 
power to bankrupt the government in an hour. Yet 
there seems to be no protection against a duplicate 
issue of every bill struck, and I can see no way of de- 
tecting duplicity until we come to redeem the currency ; 
and even then, the duplicate cannot be told from the 
original." 

The result of this conversation was, that Lincoln 
became so impressed with danger from this source that 
he called the attention of Congress to the matter, and a 
joint committee was appointed. Senator Sprague of 
Rhode Island was its chairman; but the result of the 



220 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

investigation, like many others during the war, was never 
made public to my knowledge. Considering the crippled 
financial condition of our country, and the importance 
of first-class credit abroad during our war, as little 
publicity on the subject as possible was doubtless the 
best for us politically. 

Apropos of greenbacks, Don Piatt gave a description 
in the " North American Review," a few years ago, of 
the first proposition to Mr. Lincoln to issue interest- 
bearing notes as currency, which was as follows : 

" Amasa Walker, a distinguished financier of New Eng- 
land, suggested that notes issued directly from the govern- 
ment to the people, as currency, should bear interest. This 
for the purpose, not only of making the notes popular, but 
for the purpose of preventing inflation, by inducing people 
to hoard the notes as an investment when the demands of 
trade would fail to call them into circulation as a currency. 

" This idea struck David Taylor, of Ohio, with such force 
that he sought Mr. Lincoln and urged him to put the project 
into immediate execution. The President listened patiently, 
and at the end said, 'That is a good idea, Taylor; but you 
must go to Chase. He is running that end of the machine, 
and has time to consider your proposition.' Taylor sought 
the Secretary of the Treasury, and laid before him Amasa 
Walker's plan. Chase heard him through in a cold, unpleas- 
ant manner, and then said: 'That is all very well, Mr. 
Taylor; but there is one little obstacle in the way that makes 
the plan impracticable, and that is the Constitution.' Saying 
this, he turned to his desk, as if dismissing both Mr. Taylor 
and his proposition at the same moment. 

" The poor enthusiast felt rebuked and humiliated. He 
' returned to the President, however, and reported his defeat 



HIS MAGNANIMITY. 221 

Mr. Lincoln looked at the would-be financier with the expres 
sion at times so peculiar to his homely face, that left one in 
doubt whether he was jesting or in earnest. 'Taylor!' he 
exclaimed, ' go back to Chase and tell him not to bother 
himself about the Constitution. Say that I have that sacred 
instrument here at the White House, and I am guarding it 
with great care. ' Taylor demurred to this, on the ground 
that Mr. Chase showed by his manner that he knew all about 
it, and did n't wish to be bored by any suggestion. ' We '11 see 
about that,' said the President, and taking a card from the 
table he wrote upon it, ' The Secretary of the Treasury will 
please consider Mr. Taylor's proposition. We must have 
money, and I think this a good way to get it. A. LINCOLN.' 

" Armed with this, the real father of the greenbacks again 
sought the Secretary. He was received more politely than 
before, but was cut short in his advocacy of the measure by 
a proposition for both of them to see the President. They 
did so, and Mr. Chase made a long and elaborate constitu- 
tional argument against the proposed measure. 

" ' Chase,' said Mr. Lincoln, after the Secretary had con- 
cluded, ' down in Illinois I was held to be a pretty good 
lawyer, and I believe I could answer every point you have 
made; but I don't feel called upon to do it. ... These 
rebels are violating the Constitution to destroy the Union ; 
I will violate the Constitution, if necessary, to save the 
Union : and I suspect, Chase, that our Constitution is going 
to have a rough time of it before we get done with this row. 
Now, what I want to know is, whether, Constitution aside, 
this project of issuing interest-bearing notes is a good one ?' 

"'I must say,' responded Mr. Chase, 'that, with the 
exception you make, it is not only a good one, but the only 
one open to us to raise money. If you say so, I will do 
my best to put it into immediate and practical operation, 
and you will never hear from me any opposition on this 
subject.'" 1 ') 



222 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Mr. Lincoln acquired the name of " honest Abe Lin- 
coln " by a kind of honesty much higher than that 
which restrains a man from the appropriation of his 
neighbor's goods. He did not feel at liberty to take 
every case that was offered him. He was once over- 
heard saying to a man who was consulting him and 
earnestly urging his legal rights, "Yes, I can gain your 
suit. I can set a neighborhood at loggerheads. I can 
distress a widowed mother and six fatherless children, 
and get for you six hundred dollars, to which, for all I 
can see, she has as good a right as you have. But I will 
not do so. There are some legal rights which are moral 
wrongs." 

Mr. Lincoln at no time in his life could tolerate any- 
thing like persecution; his whole nature appeared to 
rebel against any appearance of such a thing, and he 
never failed to act in the promptest manner when any 
such case was brought to his attention. One of the most 
celebrated cases ever tried by any court-martial during 
the war was that of Franklin W. Smith and his brother, 
charged with defrauding the government. These men 
bore a high character for integrity. At this time, how- 
ever, courts-martial were seldom invoked for any other 
purpose than to convict the accused, regardless of the 
facts in the case, and the Smiths shared the usual fate of 
persons whose charges were submitted to such an arbitra- 
ment. They had been kept in prison, their papers seized, 
their business destroyed, and their reputation ruined, all 
which was followed by a conviction. After the judg- 



HIS MAGNANIMITY. 22$ 

ment of the court, the matter was submitted to the 
President for his approval. The case was such a remark- 
able one, and was regarded as so monstrous in its unjust 
and unwarrantable conclusion, that Mr. Lincoln, after a 
full and careful investigation of it, annulled the whole 
proceeding. It is very remarkable that the record of 
the President's decision could never be found afterward 
in the Navy Department. No exact copy can be 
obtained of it. Some one in the office, however, familiar 
with the tenor and effect of it, furnished its wording as 
nearly as possible. The following embraces the senti- 
ment, if not the exact words, of that remarkable docu- 
ment : 

" WHEREAS, Franklin W. Smith had transactions with 
the Navy Department to the amount of a million and a 
quarter of dollars ; and Whereas, he had a chance to steal at 
least a quarter of a million and was only charged with steal- 
ing twenty-two hundred dollars, and the question now is 
about his stealing one hundred, I don't believe he stole any- 
thing at all. Therefore, the record and the findings are 
disapproved, declared null and void, and the defendants are 
fully discharged." 

In 1862 Senator Sherman had prepared a very elabor- 
ate speech in which he devoted a good portion of it to 
prove that Mr. Lincoln was a failure and unless some- 
thing was soon done by Congress, the war would be a 
failure. Someone told Mr. Lincoln that Senator Sher- 
man intended to make such a speech. Lincoln said : 
" Well Sherman is a patriot and a statesman and is thor- 
oughly for the Union ; perhaps his opinion of me may be 



224 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

jusf. It may do good. I would not have him change 
a word." Lincoln's remarks that night were repeated 
to Sherman and they made such an impression on him 
that he omitted from his speech the criticism on Lincoln. 

Colonel J. W. Forney relates a characteristic incident of 
Mr. Lincoln's generosity to an adversary. He says that 
one afternoon in February or March of 1865, he was startled 
by a visit from his old friend Washington McLean of the 
Cincinnati "Inquirer." "I have called," Mr. McLean 
said, " to ask you to do me a favor I shall never forget, 
and you must do it. I will not take no for an answer. 
You, and you alone can serve me." 

"Well, old friend," said Colonel Forney, "you know I will 
serve you if I can ; what is it?" " Now don't be alarmed 
when I tell you that Roger A. Pryor is in Fort Lafayette, 
having been captured within our lines, and that I want 
you to get him out." 

"Roger A. Pryor, of Petersburg; Roger A. Pryor, 
who fired on Sumter; Roger A. Prior, the hot-spur of 
Congress ? " 

" Yes, and your old coadjutor of the Washington Union 
when you were both Democrats together. He went into 
the Rebellion, is now a prisoner, and I appeal to you to 
go with me to the President and ask his release." As 
there was no denying his impetuous friend, Colonel For- 
ney got into his carriage and they were soon at the White 
House. Mr. McLean was introduced and it was soon 
found that Mr. Lincoln knew all about him and his paper. 
He told his story, which was patiently heard. Colonel 



HIS MAGNANIMITY. 22$ 

Forney followed with a statement of his former relations 
with Mr. Pryor, and said that he thought an act of liber- 
ality to such a man, and on a request from a frank polit- 
ical opponent like Washington McLean would be worthy 
of the head of a great nation. 

"Let me see," said Mr. Lincoln, as he fixed his spec- 
tacles and turned to a little drawer in the desk behind 
him, " I think I have a memorandum here that refers to 
some good thing done by General Pryor to a party of our 
Pennsylvania boys who were taken prisoners in an attack 
upon the Petersburg fortifications." And with that he 
took out from a small package a statement signed by the 
men who had enjoyed the hospitality of General Pryor on 
the occasion referred to. 

He had, it appears, given them food from his larder 
at a time when his own family were in a most desperate 
condition for provisions. "The man who can do such 
kindness to an enemy," said the President, " cannot be 
cruel and revengeful ; " then he wrote some lines on a card 
which he handed to Mr. McLean with the remark : " I think 
that will do ; at any rate it is all that I can give you," and 
they took their leave. Going down stairs they looked with 
amazement at the writing on the card, which read thus : 
"To Colonel Burke, Commanding at Fort Lafayette, 
New York. Please release General Roger A. Pryor, 
who will report to Colonel Forney on Capitol Hill. A. 
Lincoln." " Report to Colonel Forney ! " Colonel Forney 
who was "bubbling over with resentment against the 
Southern leaders who had hindered his advancement when 



226 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN". 

Buchanan was elected President." But there was no 
changing the order, so Mr. McLean dashed off in the next 
train to New York, the happiest Democrat in the United 
States, and two days after he walked into Colonel For- 
ney's office with the " prisoner." General Pryor took the 
upper rooms of Colonel Forney's lodgings and was his 
guest for more than a week, " during which time he was 
visited by all the chivalry, male and female, of the vicinage." 
The President enjoyed the fact that Colonel Forney had 
such good company, andThaddeus Stephens, his neighbor, 
habitually accosted him in the morning with the grim sal- 
ute : " How 's your Democratic friend and brother this 
morning ? " Colonel Forney had to admit that a more 
courteous gentleman he had never met than General Pryor, 
and did him the justice to say that he expressed the most 
fervent gratitude to Mr. Lincoln for his kindness. 



CHAPTER XV. 

CABINET COUNSELS. 

IN November, 1861, the public mind was wildly agi- 
tated by an episode of the war, which, although 
without military significance, at one time threatened to 
predetermine the final issue of the contest in favor of 
the independence of the Southern States, by the acces- 
sion of a powerful ally and auxiliary to their cause. It 
not only seriously imperilled our existing relations of 
peace and amity with a foreign power, but came near 
converting its declared neutrality into an active sympathy 
and co-operation with the Confederacy. This incident, 
commonly known as the "Trent" affair, originated in 
the unauthorized and illegal arrest of the Confederate 
Commissioners, Messrs. Mason and Slidell, with their 
secretaries, on board a British mail packet, by Capt. 
Charles Wilkes of the United States Navy, and their 
forcible transfer from the protection of the British flag to 
the frigate " San Jacinto," under Wilkes's command. 

This arbitrary proceeding, wholly unauthorized by the 
government and in flagrant violation of every principle 
of public law, was received with a universal outburst of 
joy and exultation throughout the entire country. The 
Confederates saw in this wanton aggression and outrage 



228 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

the realization of their cherished hopes of an imbroglio 
possibly of a war between England and the United 
States. The satisfaction evinced in the Northern States 
seemed less comprehensible, as the first outgoing block- 
ade-runner could easily have supplied substitutes for the 
captured and imprisoned Commissioners. Yet for this 
act, which was acclaimed and sanctioned by a verdict of 
popular approval, indorsed by a special resolution of 
thanks in the National Legislature, Captain Wilkes was 
commended and congratulated in a letter from the chief 
of his Department. In fact, every one seemed to vie 
with every one else in weaving a civic chaplet to the 
commander of the " San Jacinto " for his lawless deed. 

Amidst the wild excitement created by this inter- 
national interlude, the President alone maintained an 
imperturbable calmness and composure. From the very 
first moment he regarded the capture of the Commis- 
sioners as unwise and inexpedient. He was heard to say 
repeatedly that it would lead to dangerous compli- 
cations with England. "Unfortunately," said he, "we 
have played into the hands of that wily power, and 
placed in their grasp a whip with which to scourge us." 
He went on to say further that the " Trent " affair had 
occurred at the most inopportune and critical period of 
the war, and would greatly tend to its prolongation by 
creating a genuine bond of sympathy between England 
and the insurgent States. 

When interrogated, on one occasion, as to whether it 
was not a great humiliation to him to surrender the 



\ CABINET COUNSELS. 229 

captured Commissioners on the peremptory demand of 
John Bull, Mr. Lincoln replied, "Yes, it was the bit- 
terest pill I have ever swallowed. There is, however, 
this counterbalancing consideration, that England's 
triumph will not have a long tenure of life. After our 
war is over, I trust and believe successfully to ourselves, 
we shall be powerful enough to call her to an account 
and settlement for the embarrassment and damage she 
has inflicted upon us in our hour of trouble ; and this 
reminds me of a story which I think aptly illustrates the 
condition of things existing between their government 
and ours." He then related the following anecdote : 

A sick man in Illinois, the hope of whose recovery 
was far from encouraging, was admonished by his friends 
present that as probably he had not many hours to live 
he should bear malice to none, and before closing his 
earthly account should make peace with all his enemies. 
Turning his face to the wall and drawing a long sigh, the 
invalid was lost for a few moments in deep reflection. 
Giving utterance to a deep groan as he mentally enu- 
merated the long catalogue of enmities incurred, which 
would render the exertion of peace-making a somewhat 
prolonged one, he admitted in a feeble voice that he 
undoubtedly believed this to be the best course, and 
added : " The man whom I hate most cordially of all is 
Bill Johnson, and so I guess I '11 begin with him." 
Johnson was summoned, and at once repaired to the 
bedside of his repentant friend. The latter extended to 
him his hand, saying with a meekness that would have 



230 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

done honor to Moses, that he wanted to die at peace 
with all the world, and to bury all his past enmity. Bill, 
who was much inclined to the melting mood, here burst 
into tears, making free use of his bandanna, and warmly 
returning the pressure of the dying man's hand, solemnly 
and impressively assured him of his forgiveness. As the 
now reconciled friends were about to separate, in the 
expectation of never again seeing each other on earth, 
" Stop," exclaimed the penitent invalid to his departing 
visitor, who had now reached the door ; "the account is 
now square between us, Bill Johnson ; but, see here, if 
I should happen to get well, that old grudge stands ! " 

In December, about one month after the arrest of the 
Confederate Commissioners, when Mr. Lincoln and his 
Cabinet were in a state of alarm, fearing a war with 
England, Mr. Chase one day came to the President and 
told him that Mr. Stanton, who had been attorney- 
general under Buchanan, had talked with him on the 
subject of this trouble with Great Britain, and had 
expressed the opinion that the action of the American 
government in arresting Mason and Slidell was legal and 
could be sustained by international law. The President 
told Mr. Chase that Stanton did not like him, and had 
treated him rudely on one occasion ; but that if Mr. 
Chase thought Stanton would meet him, he would be 
glad to have him do so and give his views on the subject. 
In an hour Mr. Chase had Stanton in Mr. Lincoln's 
presence. Mr. Lincoln expressed his gratification at 
hearing of Mr. Stanton's views, and asked him to repeat 



CABINET COUNSELS. 2$l 

them. When Mr. Stanton had finished the discussion of 
the case, and of the laws bearing thereon, Mr. Lincoln 
expressed his thanks, and asked Stanton to put his 
opinion in writing, which he promised to do by ten 
o'clock the next morning. The opinion was brought at 
the appointed time. Mr. Lincoln read it and filed it, 
and then said : " Mr. Stanton, this is a time of war, 
and you are as much interested in sustaining the govern- 
ment as myself or any other man. This is no time to 
consider mere party issues. The life of the nation is in 
danger. I need the best counsellors around me. I 
have every confidence in your judgment, and have con- 
cluded to ask you to become one of my counsellors. 
The office of the Secretary of War will be vacant, and I 
want you to accept the position. Will you do it ? " 

Stanton was amazed, and said : " Why, Mr. President, 
you take me by surprise ! This is an embarrassing ques- 
tion, but if you will give me a day or two to consider, I 
will give you an answer." Two days later he called on 
the President and signified his intention to accept. On 
the 15 th day of January, 1862, the portfolio of Secre- 
tary of War was placed in his hands.* 

* DENVER, COL., May 23, 1885. 
Hon. Wm. A. Wheeler, Malone, N. Y. 

MY DEAR SIR, A few days since I had the pleasure of read- 
ing your "Recollections of Lincoln" from the Malone (N. Y.) 
" Palladium," in which you say : " At the extra session of Congress 
in July, 1861, a law was passed authorizing the appointment of 
additional paymasters for the Army; " that the President assented 
to your request that your life-long friend, Major Sabin, should be 
one of the appointees; that, in September following, Mr. Lincoln 



232 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

The appointment of Mr. Stanton in Mr. Lincoln's 
Cabinet was a great surprise to the country. Those 

wrote you saying he had sent the appointment of Mr. Sabin to the 
Secretary of War, who would notify him to appear for muster into 
the Service. October passed, and no notice came. Then, you 
say, a letter written to " Secretary Stanton" failed to bring a 
response; that the latter part of November you went to Washing- 
ton to attend the regular session of Congress, taking Mr. Sabin 
with you. You then say : " The day after my arrival I waited 
upon Secretary Stanton," etc. ; you then detail the conversation 
had with Mr. Lincoln, and the fact of his making a somewhat 
imperative order to the Secretary to make the appointment "at 
once." You say, " I called on Mr. Stanton the next morning, who 
on its [the letter's or order's] presentation was simply furious." 
And after this you speak of what was said and done by "'Mr. 
Stanton, the Secretary of War." 

Allow me, my dear sir, to assure you that I now entertain, and 
always have entertained, for you the most profound respect, and 
to express my sincere regret that you were not President instead 
of Vice-President of the United States. I therefore venture to hope 
that you will pardon me for saying that I am unable to recon- 
cile the statements purporting to be made by you, alluded to above, 
with the historical fact that Mr. Stanton was not appointed Secre- 
tary of War until in January the year following, namely, 1862. 
It occurs to me that there must be a mistake made in your paper, 
either of dates or of the name of the Secretary of War. I am 
certain this irreconcilable statement was not made by you as 
was the blunder made by Sir Walter Scott in his " Ivanhoe " 
(chap. i.). "The date of this story," as he says, "refers to a 
period towards the end of the reign of Richard I." Richard died 
in 1199; nevertheless, Sir Walter makes the disguised Wamba 
style himself " a poor brother of the Order of St. Francis," 
although the Order of St. Francis was not founded until 1210, and 
of course the saintship of the founder had still a later date. 

If my recollection serves me correctly, Mr. Stanton, whose 
memory is now cherished by the great mass of the Republican 
party, at the dates you speak of and refer to was regarded as a 
Bourbon of the strictest sect. Up to the time of the capture 
of the " Trent," with Mason and Slidell aboard, on the 8th of 
November, 1861, if Mr. Stanton had conceived any " change of 



CABINET COUNSELS. 233 

who were acquainted with the relations existing between 
these two men when they were both practising lawyers 

heart" and cessation of hostility to the Administration.it never 
was publicly manifested. It was something over a month after 
this capture that he was consulted by Mr. Lincoln, at the sugges- 
tion of Secretary Chase, as an international lawyer concerning the 
legality of the capture and arrest of Messrs. Mason and Slidell, 
which was the first interview that was had between Mr. Lincoln 
and Mr. Stanton since the commencement of the Administration. 
This interview led to Mr. Stanton's appointment as Secretary of 
War. Mr. Lincoln had occasion for regret about the "Trent" 
capture, but never for the capture of Mr. Stanton. 

The immortal Shakespeare, like yourself and others, sometimes 
got his dates confused ; for instance, in his " Coriolanus," he says 
of C. Marcius, " Thou wast a soldier even to Cato's will," when in 
fact Marcius Coriolanus was banished from Rome and died over 
two hundred years before Cato was born. Again, his reference in 
the same play, of Marcius sitting in state like Alexander: the 
latter was not born for a hundred and fifty years after Coriolanus's 
death. He also says in "Julius Caesar," "The clock strikes 
three," when in truth and in fact there were no striking clocks 
until more than eight hundred years after the death of Caesar. 
Another inaccuracy is to be found in " King Lear " in regard to 
spectacles. Spectacles were not worn until the thirteenth century. 
And still another in this immortal writer's statements in his play 
of "Macbeth," where he speaks of cannon: cannon were not 
invented until 1346, and Macbeth was killed in 1054. 

You will pardon me these citations, for they are made in a 
spirit of playful illustration, to show how great minds often 
become confused about dates. 

" What you have said 
I have considered ; what you have to say 
I will with patience wait to hear." 

I read your " Recollections of Lincoln " with great interest, as I 
do everything I see written about that most wonderful, interesting, 
and unique of all of our public men. I sincerely hope you will 
receive this in the same kindly spirit that it is written, prompted 
as it is by a curiosity to know how this variance about Mr. 
Stanton's official status during the first year of Mr. Lincoln's 



234 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

were not only astonished at this appointment, but were 
apprehensive that there could not possibly be harmony 

Administration can be reconciled. I will regard it as an esteemed 
favor if you will drop me a line explaining it. 

Your interesting and graphic description of Mr. Lincoln's pardon 
of the soldier convicted and condemned for sleeping at his post 
interested me very much. I have a curiosity to know whether 
this soldier's name was not William Scott ? If Scott was his 
name, I have a reason to believe he was the person whom Francis 
De Haes Janvier immortalized in verse. 

I have the honor to be, very sincerely, 

Your humble servant, 

WARD H. LAMON. 



MALONE, N. Y., June 2, 1885. 
Ward H. Lamon, Denver, Col, 

MY DEAR SIR, I thank you most sincerely for your letter of 
the 23d ultimo, and for the friendly feeling you evince for me. 

I am simply mortified at my gross blunder, and can only plead 
in mitigation the lapse of more than twenty years since the affairs 
alluded to transpired, in which time, aside from having performed 
a large amount of hard public and private work, I have experienced 
an amount of trouble exceptional to ordinary men, having buried 
everyone near tome, father, mother, brothers, and sisters. I 
have no one left of nearer kin to me than cousins, and no one to 
care for my house except servants. For the last three years I 
have been an invalid, confined to my house and for a considerable 
portion of the time to my bed: what wonder that "the warder of 
the brain " should be sometimes at fault ! The mistake must be one 
of time, for the actors in the transaction are too vividly impressed 
upon my memory ever to be forgotten until that faculty is wholly 
dethroned. 

I may be mistaken in the fact that Sabin accompanied me when 
I went on for the regular session in December, 1861 ; but so sure 
was I of it that before your letter I would have sworn to it. You 
have furnished me with a needed caution. It is unpleasant to find 
out that years are telling upon us, but it is healthful nevertheless. 
And so I may be mistaken as to the time intervening between the 
successive stages of the appointment. Sabin is somewhere in the 



CABINET COUNSELS. 

of action and co-operation between them. There were 
perhaps seldom, if ever, two really great men who were 
as unlike in all respects as Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stanton. 
They were dissimilar in their habits of life, disposition, 
taste, in fact in every particular of the general make-up 
of man. But Mr. Lincoln fully appreciated Mr. Stan- 
ton's great ability, both as a lawyer and as a Cabinet 
counsellor under Mr. Buchanan. The President needed 
the ablest counsel he could obtain, and allowed no per- 
sonal consideration to influence him in selecting the 
right man for the service. 

West, and I will endeavor to find his whereabouts and get his 
statement of the facts. Brevet Brig.-Genl. Chauncey McKeever, 
now Assistant Adjutant-General of the Army, was at the time in 
Stanton's office in a confidential capacity, and I think will remem- 
ber the transaction. 

I do not remember the name of the pardoned soldier. One of 
Kellogg's sons lives in the southern part of the State ; I will 
endeavor to get the name, and if successful will write you. 

Now, my dear sir, mortified as I am, I feel almost compensated 
in having drawn from you such an admirable collection of ana- 
chronisms of famous literary men of the world. I am greatly 
interested in it, and shall take the liberty of showing it to my lite- 
rary friends. In your readings have you ever encountered the 
" Deathless City," a beautiful poem written by Elizabeth A. Allen ? 
I never saw but this single production from her pen. Who was 
or is she, and did she write other things ? 

My memories of Mr. Lincoln are a source of great pleasure to 
me. Many of them recall illustrations just a little " off color." 

If you ever come east, I wish you would come across northern 
New York and drop in upon me. I should greatly delight to live 
over the days of the war with you. 

Again thanking you for your letter, and fully reciprocating your 
good-will, I am 

Very cordially yours, 

WM. A. WHEELER. 



236 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

In order to make the history of this appointment com- 
plete in its personal element, it will be necessary to go 
back to the year 1858, when Abraham Lincoln was 
practising law in Springfield, Illinois, and Edwin M. 
Stanton was at the head of his profession in Cincinnati. 
The celebrated McCormick Reaper and Mower case 
was before the United States Court in Cincinnati. Mr. 
Stanton had been retained as counsel-in-chief on one side 
of the case, and to be associated with him were T. D. 
Lincoln of Cincinnati, and Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. 
When Mr. Lincoln arrived in Cincinnati to attend the 
trial, he called upon Mr. Stanton, who treated him in so 
impolite and rude a manner that he went to his client and 
informed him that he should have to withdraw as his 
counsel in the case and stated his reasons therefor. Mr. 
Lincoln was entreated to remain in the case, and Mr. 
Stanton was seen and was talked to about the matter. 
Mr. Lincoln happened to be in a room adjoining where 
this conversation occurred, and overheard Mr. Stanton 
say that he would not associate with such a d , gawky, 
long-armed ape as that ; if he could not have a man who 
was a gentleman in appearance associated with him in 
the case, he would himself abandon it. When the client 
returned, Mr. Lincoln refunded to him the five-hundred 
dollar retainer fee, peremptorily declining to keep it. He 
then returned to Urbana, Illinois, where court was in 
session, and, to explain his unexpected return, related 
the fact and his mortification to his associate members 



CABINET COUNSELS. 237 

of the bar. After this event, Mr. Lincoln never met 
Mr. Stanton until the " Trent " affair brought them 
together ; yet it is certain that Mr. Lincoln never forgot 
the gratuitous insult then cast upon him. 

To this day there is a settled belief that at this time 
the Administration councils manifested a lack of hearty 
co-operation and unity of purpose and sentiment. This 
is a mistake, for throughout Mr. Lincoln's Administration 
as much harmony as could reasonably be expected ex- 
isted between him and his Cabinet ministers. Differ- 
ences arose between them at times in regard to minor 
considerations of policy, but never to the extent that the 
differences were not eventually harmonized, compro- 
mised, or accommodated. To be sure, many things 
occurred during the fearful war-struggle about which he 
and his Cabinet differed in their estimates and conclu- 
sions, and Mr. Lincoln thereby was often disappointed 
and grieved. As one instance of his disappointment, 
may be mentioned his abandonment of a message to 
Congress in deference to the opinion and counsel of his 
advisers. This occurred directly after his return from 
the conference he and Mr. Seward had with Messrs. 
Stephens, Campbell, and Hunter at City Point on the 
James River. 

Notwithstanding his hatred of the institution of slavery, 
Mr. Lincoln believed that the holder of slaves had a 
right of property in them which the government had no 
right, legally or morally, to interfere with in the States 
unless forced thereto by the necessities of war. He 



23& RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

gladly approved the action of Congress in providing for 
the payment of compensation for the slaves liberated in 
the District of Columbia. The message above referred 
to recommended an appropriation of three hundred 
million dollars to be apportioned among the several 
slave States, in proportion to slave population, as com- 
pensation to the owners of liberated slaves in the insur- 
gent States, with the condition that the insurgents should 
lay down their arms, disband their troops, and return 
and renew their allegiance to the United States govern- 
ment. Mr. Seward at this time was not present, being 
confined to bed by injuries he had received by being 
thrown from his carriage. All the other members of the 
Cabinet were present, every one of whom opposed the 
message. Lincoln then asked : " How long will this 
war last?" No reply came. He then answered his 
own question, saying : " It will doubtless last one hun- 
dred days longer ; we are now spending three million 
dollars a day, which rate will aggregate the amount I 
propose to appropriate in order to put an end to this ter- 
rible blood-shedding." Then with a deep sigh he said, 
" Since you are all opposed to me I will not send this 
message," and turning round he placed the paper in his 
drawer. It is rather a curious coincidence that the war 
did last just about a hundred days after Lincoln's re- 
markable interview with his Cabinet on this subject. 

There is also a prevailing opinion that the Secretary 
of War (Stanton) at times arbitrarily refused to obey or 
carry out Mr. Lincoln's orders. This is also not true. 



CABINET COUNSELS. 239 

This opinion is largely based upon Mr. Stanton's refusal of 
permits to persons desirous of going through the lines into 
insurgent districts. The persons who were disobliged in 
this respect were very severe in their comments on Mr. 
Stanton's course, which they considered harsh, disoblig- 
ing, and sometimes cruel. On refusal of Mr. Stanton to 
accommodate in many such cases, Mr. Lincoln was 
appealed to, and his invariable reply was : " I cannot 
always know whether a permit ought to be granted, and 
I want to oblige everybody when I can; and Stanton 
and I have an understanding that if I send an order to 
him which cannot be consistently granted, he is to re- 
fuse it. This he sometimes does." This state of things 
caused him to say to a man who complained of Stanton, 
" I have not much influence with this Administration, 
but I expect to have more with the next." 

Not long before the death of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Stan- 
ton tendered his resignation as Secretary of War. His 
letter of resignation was couched in the kindest language, 
paying a heartfelt tribute to Mr. Lincoln's uniform and 
constant friendship, and his faithful devotion to the 
country. It stated that the writer had accepted the 
position of Secretary of War for the purpose of holding 
it only till the war should end, and that now he felt that 
his work was completed, and that it was his duty to 
resign. Mr. Lincoln was greatly moved by the tone of 
the letter, and said : " Mr. Stanton, you have been a 
faithful public officer, and it is not for you to say when 
you will be no longer needed here." At the President's 



240 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

earnest solicitation, the letter of resignation was with- 
drawn, and Mr. Stanton continued to occupy the War 
Office until after Mr. Lincoln's death. 

When Mr. Lincoln submitted his Proclamation of 
Emancipation for the consideration of the Cabinet, he 
had not conferred with any one about the phraseology 
of the instrument. He read the document through, 
without a single interruption or comment. They all 
concurred in opinion that it was an admirable paper. 
Mr. Chase then said : " Mr. President, you have invoked 
the considerate judgment of mankind, but you have 
not invoked the blessing of Almighty God on your action 
in this matter. I believe He has something to do 
with this question." Mr. Lincoln then said : " You are 
right, Mr. Secretary. I most humbly thank you for that 
suggestion; it was an oversight of mine. Do me the 
favor of taking a pen and paper and adding what you 
would have in conclusion." Mr. Chase wrote seven 
words, namely, " and the gracious favor of Almighty 
God." Mr. Lincoln then added them to the end of the 
last paragraph, which made it read as follows : " And 
upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, 
warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I 
invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the 
gracious favor of Almighty God." n 

In referring to the differences of opinion entertained 
between Mr. Lincoln and the members of his Cabinet, 
it will be observed that in the matter of reconstruction 
of the State governments his policy was, according to 



CABINET COUNSELS. 24! 

his proclamation, that the persons who were authorized 
to re-establish such governments were to be " the quali- 
fied voters of the respective States before the acts of 
secession." Mr. Chase alone of all the Cabinet objected 
to this clause of the proclamation, and insisted that it 
should be changed so as to read, instead of " qualified 
voters," " citizens of the State." But the Attorney- 
General in the year 1862 had given an opinion that the 
colored men born in the United States were citizens of 
the United States ; and if the phrase " one-tenth of the 
qualified voters required to re-organize " were changed 
to " one-tenth of the citizens," the organization might 
have been legally composed entirely of colored men. 
Mr. Lincoln was set in his purpose that the restored 
governments in the seceded States should be organized 
by the "qualified voters" of those States before secession 
was attempted, and Mr. Chase had to submit to the 
inevitable. 

The great caution with which Mr. Lincoln approached 
the important subject of elective franchise may be 
shown in his letter to Governor Hahn : 

(PRIVATE.) 

EXECUTIVE MANSION, 
WASHINGTON, March 13, 1864. 
Hon. Michael Hahn : 

MY DEAR SIR, I congratulate you on having fixed your 
name in history as the first free-state Governor of Louisiana. 
Now, you are about to have a convention, which among 
other things will probably define the elective franchise. I 
barely suggest for your private consideration, whether some 

16 



242 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

of the colored people may not be let in, as, for instance, 
the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought 
gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in some 
trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty within the 
family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to 
the public, but to you alone. 

Yours truly, 
(Signed) A. LINCOLN. 

This would seem to show conclusively that Mr. Lin- 
coln did not intend to force negro suffrage upon the 
people in the rebel States. Doubtless, he desired that 
the negroes should have the right of suffrage, but he 
expected and hoped that the people would confer the 
right of their own will. He knew that if this right were 
forced upon them, it could not or would not be exer- 
cised in peace. He realized in advance that the ex- 
periment of legislative equality was one fraught with 
difficulties and dangers, not only to the well-being of the 
negro, but to the peace of society. "While I am," 
said he, "in favor of freedom to all of God's human 
creatures, with equal political rights under prudential 
restrictions, I am not in favor of unlimited social equal- 
ity. There are questions arising out of our complica- 
tions that trouble me greatly. The question of universal 
suffrage to the freedman in his unprepared state is one 
of doubtful propriety. I do not oppose the justice of 
the measure ; but I do think it is of doubtful political 
policy, and may rebound like a boomerang not only on 
the Republican party, but upon the freedman himself 
and our common country." 



CABINET COUNSELS. 243 

As the war approached its conclusion, and Mr. Lin- 
coln foresaw the inevitable submission of the insurgents, 
his mind did not become less seriously affected by the 
contemplation of the new responsibilities which would 
devolve upon him as Chief Magistrate of the reorganized 
and reconstructed nation. His second Inaugural Ad- 
dress mirrored his frame of mind to a great extent. He 
was oppressed with great care, resulting from a con- 
sciousness that changes would occur in the near future 
which would impose upon him new and difficult duties, 
in which he might possibly find himself in conflict not 
only with the men in his own party who already 
persistently opposed him, but with many other public 
men who had supported his Administration throughout 
the existence of the war. There seemed to be no settled 
policy for the contemplated new state of things, and few 
men thought alike on the subject. There were almost 
as many theories as there were distinguished men to 
advance them. This state of things devolved the 
greater responsibility upon Mr. Lincoln, and he keenly 
felt the weight of it. 

Upon no occasion, either public or private, did Mr. 
Lincoln hesitate to express freely his views and senti- 
ments as to the conditions under which he would have 
liked the War of the Rebellion to terminate. All that 
he desired was that the enemy should cease fighting, 
lay down their arms, and return to their homes, their 
duties, and their allegiance to their country. He har- 
bored no feeling of revenge, no thirst for the blood of 



244 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

his erring fellow-countrymen, his highest aspiration 
being peace and a restored Union. From what he has 
been repeatedly heard to declare, he would gladly have 
spared to his vanquished foes the humiliation of a public 
surrender if the war could otherwise have been brought 
to a close. He fondly hoped for a condition of things 
which would render reconstruction and love of country 
assured, fixed, and immutable. In discussing the ques- 
tion of reconstruction previous to the surrender of Gen- 
eral Lee, I have more than once heard him say : " We 
cannot hang all these people, even if they were in our 
power ; there are too many of them. Think of the con- 
sequences of such an act ! Since this government was 
established, there have been comparatively few trials or 
executions for treason or offences against the State. 
This has been eminently a government of loyal citizens." 
A distinguished gentleman, an earnest advocate for 
punishment of the rebels, once asked him what he in- 
tended to do when the moment arrived for him to act. 
"Do?" said he; "why, reconstruct the machinery of 
this government ! This is all that I see I can properly 
do." The gentleman, with much asperity, exclaimed : 
" Mr. President, it does appear to some of your friends, 
myself included, as if you had taken final leave of your 
senses ! As if it were intended that treason should 
henceforth not be regarded as odious, and the offenders, 
cut-throats, and authors of this war should not only go 
unpunished, but receive encouragement to repeat their 
outrages on the government with impunity ! They 
should be hanged higher than Haman, sir ! " 



CABINET COUNSELS. 24$. 

Mr. Lincoln here asked : " Mr. , suppose, when 

the moment has arrived, the hanging policy you recom- 
mend be adopted, will you agree to be chief execu- 
tioner? If so, let me know, and I will at once appoint 
you a brigadier-general and prospective public hangman 
of the United States. Will you serve, if so appointed? " 

" Mr. Lincoln," responded his interlocutor, " I sup- 
posed you regarded me as a gentleman ; at least you 
ought to know better than to ask me to do, or believe 
me capable of doing, such dirty work." 

" You speak," said Mr. Lincoln, interrupting him, " of 
being a gentleman. In this free country of ours, when 
it comes to rights and duties, especially in time of war, 
the gentleman and the vagrant stand on exactly the 
same plane; their rights are equal, their duties the 
same. As a law-abiding citizen, you are no more 
exempt from the performance of what you call 'dirty 
work ' than if you were not a gentleman." 

His visitor here arose abruptly and left the room in 
great indignation, relieving himself of his pent-up wrath 
by a torrent of oaths and imprecations. He was a 
United States Senator, and I have not at all exaggerated 
his profanity or his deportment on the occasion here 
narrated. He did not, indeed, intermit his denuncia- 
tions, which were, besides, embellished with the choicest 
specimens of billingsgate, until a casual rencontre on the 
Avenue with a member of the lower House afforded him 
the solace of exclaiming : " Lincoln is a damned idiot ! 
He has no spirit, and is as weak as an old woman. He 



246 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

was never fitted for the position he holds. After this 
war is over, it would not at all surprise me if he were to 
fill the public offices with a horde of these infernal 
rebels, and choose for his constitutional advisers the dam- 
nable leaders of the rebellion themselves." I am not 
aware that this senator ever again visited the President. 

After the capitulation of General Lee, what was to be 
done with the leaders of the rebellion became a most 
serious question. Persons who had been throughout 
the war the fiercest and most radical opponents of the 
rebels (such men as Horace Greeley and others) became 
suddenly most conservative; and the converse course 
was pursued by many of the most conservative persons, 
now urging relentless punishment of the offending 
leaders. General Grant asked for special instructions 
of Mr. Lincoln, whether he should try to capture 
Jefferson Davis, or let him escape from the country if he 
wanted to do so. Mr. Lincoln replied by relating the 
story of an Irishman who had taken the pledge of Father 
Matthew, and having become terribly thirsty applied to 
a bar-tender for a lemonade ; and while it was being 
prepared he whispered to the bar-tender, " And could n't 
you put a little brandy in it all unbeknownst to myself? " 
Mr. Lincoln told the general he would like to let Jeff 
Davis escape all unbeknown to himself: he had no use 
for him. 

On the day of the assassination, General Creswell 
came to Washington to see the President in the interest 
of an old friend who had been located in the South, and 



CABINET COUNSELS. 247 

had got into the rebel army, and had been captured by 
our troops and imprisoned. He drew an affidavit set- 
ting forth what he knew about the man, particularly 
mentioning extenuating circumstances which seemed to 
entitle him to the generosity or leniency of the govern- 
ment. General Creswell found the President very 
happy. The Confederacy had collapsed. The scene at 
Appomattox had just been enacted. He was greeted 
with : " Creswell, old fellow, everything is bright this 
morning. The war is over. It has been a tough time, 
but we have lived it out, or some of us have," and he 
dropped his voice a little on the last clause of the sen- 
tence. "But it is over; we are going to have good 
times now, and a united country." 

After a time, General Creswell told his story, read his 
affidavit, and said, " I know the man has acted like a fool, 
but he is my -friend, and a good fellow ; let him out, give 
him to me, and I will be responsible that he won't have 
anything more to do with the rebs." 

"Creswell," said Mr. Lincoln, "you make me think 
of a lot of young folks who once started out Maying. To 
reach their destination, they had to cross a shallow 
stream, and did so by means of an old flatboat. When 
the time came to return, they found to their dismay that 
the old scow had disappeared. They were in sore 
trouble, and thought over all manner of devices for 
getting over the water, but without avail. After a time, 
one of the boys proposed that each fellow should pick 
up the girl he liked best and wade over with her. The 



248 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 

masterly proposition was carried out, until all that were 
left upon the island was a little short chap and a great, 
long, gothic-built, elderly lady. Now, Creswell, you 
are trying to leave me in the same predicament. You 
fellows are all getting your own friends out of this scrape ; 
and you will succeed in carrying off one after another, 
until nobody but Jeff Davis and myself will be left on 
the island, and then I won't know what to do. How 
should I feel? How should I look, lugging him over? 
I guess the way to avoid such an embarrassing situation 
is to let them all out at once." 

A somewhat similar illustration he made at an informal 
Cabinet meeting, at which was being discussed the dis- 
position of Jefferson Davis and other prominent Con- 
federates. Each member of the Cabinet gave his 
opinion ; most of them were for hanging the traitors, or 
for some severe punishment. Lincoln said nothing. 
Finally, Joshua F. Speed, his old and confidential friend, 
who had been invited to the meeting, said, " I have 
heard the opinion of your Ministers, and would like to 
hear yours." 

" Well, Josh," replied Mr. Lincoln, " when I was a 
boy in Indiana, I went to a neighbor's house one morn- 
ing and found a boy of my own size holding a coon by 
a string. I asked him what he had and what he was 
doing. He says, ' It 's a coon. Dad cotched six last 
night, and killed all but this poor little cuss. Dad told 
me to hold him until he came back, and I 'm afraid he 's 
going to kill this one too ; and oh, Abe, I do wish he 



CABINET COUNSELS. 249 

would get away ! ' 'Well, why don't you let him loose?' 
' That would n't be right ; and if I let him go, Dad 
would give me hell. But if he would get away himself, 
it would be all right.' Now," said Mr. Lincoln, " if Jeff 
Davis and those other fellows will only get away, it will 
be all right. But if we should catch them, and I should 
let them go, ' Dad would give me hell.' " 

The President of the Southern Confederacy was, how- 
ever, afterwards captured and imprisoned at Fortress 
Monroe, charged with treason, etc., and at length ad- 
mitted to bail, Mr. Horace Greeley, the great Radical 
journalist, becoming one of his bondsmen. Mr. Davis 
was never brought to trial, and eventually the charges 
against him were ignored. He was a prisoner of State 
at Fortress Monroe for two years; in the year 1867 he 
was released on bail, went to Canada, but subsequently 
returned to the State of Mississippi, where he lived in 
retirement until his death. 

On the night of the 3d of March, 1865, Mr. Lincoln, 
with several members of his Cabinet, was in attendance 
at the Capitol, awaiting the final passage of bills by Con- 
gress, in order that they might receive the Presidential 
signature. In the intervals between the reading, con- 
sidering, and approving of these bills, the military situa- 
tion was freely discussed. Every one appeared to be 
happy at the prospect of the early re-establishment of 
peace, General Grant having just telegraphed a glowing 
account of his successes and his control of the situation, 
and expressing the hope that a very few days would find 



250 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Richmond in the hands of the national forces and the 
army of General Lee disbanded or captured. While the 
members were felicitating one another on the approach- 
ing cessation of hostilities, a second dispatch from 
General Grant was handed to Mr. Stanton, who, having 
read it, handed it to the President and became absorbed 
in thought. The telegram advised the Secretary of the 
receipt of a letter from General Lee, requesting an 
immediate interview, with a view to the re- establishment 
of peace between the two sections. The dispatch hav- 
ing been read by others of the party, Mr. Lincoln's 
spirits rose to a height rarely witnessed since the out- 
break of the war. All the better and kindlier impulses of 
his nature were aroused. The cry, " What is to be done 
with the rebels when this cruel war is over? " ceased to 
ring in his ears. He was unable to restrain himself from 
giving expression to the natural impulses of his heart, or 
from foreshadowing the magnanimity with which the 
Confederates were now to be treated. He did not hesi- 
tate to express himself as favorably disposed towards 
granting the most lenient and generous terms to a 
defeated foe. 

Mr. Stanton could now no longer restrain himself; he 
was in a towering rage, and turning to the President, his 
eyes flashing fire, he exclaimed : " Mr. President, you 
are losing sight of the paramount consideration at this 
juncture, namely, how and by whom is this war to be 
closed ? To-morrow is Inauguration Day ; you will then 
enter upon your second term of office. Read again this 



CABINET COUNSELS. 2$l 

dispatch : don't you appreciate its significance ? If you 
are not to be President of an obedient, loyal, and united 
people, you ought not to take the oath of office, you 
are not a proper person to be empowered with so high 
and responsible a trust. Your work is already achieved, 
all but reconstruction. If any other authority than 
your own be for a moment recognized ; or if terms of 
peace be agreed upon that do not emanate from yourself, 
and do not imply that you are the supreme head of the 
nation, you are not needed. You should not consent 
to act in the humiliating capacity of a mere figure-head, 
to aid in the acquisition of that fame for others which 
rightfully belongs to yourself. By thus doing, you will 
scandalize every true friend you possess in the country." 
It was now Mr. Lincoln's turn to become thoughtful. 
He sat at the table for a few minutes, absorbed in deep 
reflection, and then, addressing himself to the Secretary 
of War, said : " Stanton, you are right ; this dispatch did 
not, at first sight, strike me as I now consider it." Upon 
this he took pen and paper and hurriedly wrote the fol- 
lowing dispatch, handing it to Stanton, and requesting 
him to date, sign, and send it at once. The dispatch 
ran as follows : 

" The President directs me to say to you that he wishes 
you to have no conference with General Lee, unless it be for 
the capitulation of Lee's army, or on some minor and purely 
military matter. He instructs me to say that you are not to 
decide, discuss, or confer on any political questions ; the 
President, holding the decision of these questions in his own 
hands, will submit them to no military conference or conven- 



252 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

tion. In the mean time you are to press, to the utmost of 
your ability, your military advantage." 

The above dispatch was read, signed, and sent by Mr. 
Stanton immediately, without one word of comment, 
and soon afterward the entire party left the Capitol for 
their respective homes, there to await further develop- 
ments. At the same time, the Secretary of War sent 
the following telegram to General Grant : 

WASHINGTON, March 3, 1865. 

LIEUTENANT-GENERAL GRANT, I send you a telegram 
written by the President himself, in answer to yours of this 
evening, which I have signed by his order. I will add that 
General Ord's conduct in holding intercourse with General 
Longstreet upon political questions not committed to his 
charge, is not approved. The same thing was done, in one 
instance, by Major Keys, when the army was commanded by 
General McClellan, and he was sent to meet Howell Cobb 
on the subject of exchanges ; and it was in that instance, as 
in this, disapproved. You will please, in future, instruct 
officers appointed to meet rebel officers to confine them- 
selves to the matters specially committed to them. 

(Signed) EDWIN M. STANTON, 

Secretary of War. 

On the succeeding day a dispatch was received from 
General Grant in cipher, of which the following is a 

translation : 

CITY POINT, March 4, 1865. 

Hon. E. M. STANTON, Secretary of War: 

Your dispatch of the 3d, midnight, received. I have a 
letter to General Lee, copy of which will be sent you by 
to-morrow's mail. I can assure you that no act of the 



CABINET COUNSELS. 253 

enemy will prevent me pressing all advantages gained to the 
utmost of my ability. Neither will I, under any circum- 
stances, exceed my authority, or in any way embarrass the 
government. It was because I had no right to meet General 
Lee on the subject proposed by him, that I referred the 
matter for instructions. 

U. S. GRANT, 

Lieutenant- General. 



CHAPTER XVI. 

CONFLICT BETWEEN CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITY. 

THE execution of the Fugitive Slave Law in the 
District of Columbia became a question much 
discussed in Congress, and was a frightful scandal to the 
Radical members. The law remained in force ; and no 
attempt was made by Congress to repeal it, or to pro- 
vide for the protection of the Executive officers whose 
duty it was to enforce it. The subject gave Mr. Lincoln 
great concern, but he could see no way out of the diffi- 
culty except to have the law executed. The District 
had become the asylum of the runaway slaves from the 
Border States, particularly from the rebel State of Vir- 
ginia and the quasi-loyal State of Maryland. So far as 
the State of Virginia was concerned, she was still, accord- 
ing to the theory of the Administration, one of the 
United States ; and all Congressional laws on the stat- 
ute book were enforced in regard to her as well as to 
States not in rebellion, which made the question one of 
great embarrassment. The Confiscation Act, which gave 
liberty to all slaves that had been employed by the 
rebels for insurrectionary purposes, had gone into effect 
in the month of August, 1861. The military governor 
of the District assumed that by virtue of this law all 



CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 2$$ 

slaves that came into the District from whatever section 
had been thus employed, and consequently were free, 
and it became his duty to give them military protection 
as free persons. 

This state of things caused a fearful responsibility to 
rest upon the shoulders of the civil executive authorities. 
The President gave me private instructions to execute 
the laws until Congress modified or repealed them. 
" In doing this," Mr. Lincoln said, " you will receive 
much adverse criticism and a good deal of downright 
abuse from members of Congress. This is certain to 
come, but it will be not so much intended for you as for 
me ; as our friend Senator Hale, the other day, said in 
the Senate, ' We must not strike too high nor too low, 
but we must strike between wind and water : the marshal 
is the man to hit.' And I say, we shall have to stand it 
whatever they send." 

Martial law had not been declared; there was not 
even a temporary suspension of the civil authority, even 
in exceptional cases, in the District of Columbia. It 
was conceded by all, that in time of danger the tempo- 
rary rule of military authority was virtually necessary to 
the preservation of the federal capital ; but at this time 
there was no pretence of danger. The civil courts of 
the District being in full power for the adjudication of 
all cases arising within their jurisdiction, nothing but a 
pressing military necessity could give countenance or 
pretext for the suspension of the civil law. It was, 
therefore, only a question of time and the time soon 



256 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

came for a conflict to arise between civil and military 
authority. 

The conflict grew out of an order of the military gov- 
ernor to take a female fugitive slave from the custody of 
the marshal and deliver her into the hands of the mili- 
tary. The deputies to whom the order was shown 
declined to obey the command, giving as a reason for 
their refusal that she was held under due process of law, 
and that they had no authority to give her up without 
the order of the court. Military officers, with a strong 
guard, then arrested the deputy marshals, seized the jail, 
released the slave, and left a military guard in charge of 
the captured jail.* 

I was temporarily absent at the time of the seizure. 
When I returned I arrested the military guard, recap- 
tured the jail, liberated the prisoners placed therein by 
the military, and held the military guard as prisoners. I 
was supported by the police and other civil authorities, 
and by the citizens of Washington ; the military gover- 
nor was supported by forces under his command, 

* WAR DEPARTMENT, 
WASHINGTON, D. C., May 22, 1862. 

Captain Sherwood, or Officer in Command at Central Guard House: 

SIR, You will send a sentinel at once to the city jail, with 
orders to relieve the man now on duty there at the jail door, and 
give him orders to allow no person whatsoever to enter or leave 
the jail, without permission from General Wadsworth. This guard 
will be maintained until further orders. 

By Command of Brigadier-General Wadsworth, 

JOHN A. KRESS, 
A. D. C. 



CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 

intended for the defence of the city. The matter was 
eventually laid before the President. He called to his 
aid his Attorney-General, who gave a prompt but decisive 
opinion that in the present state of things in the District 
of Columbia the civil authority outranked the military ; 
and he gave the further opinion that the military gover- 
nor's conduct had been misguided and unauthorized, 
however philanthropic' might have been his purposes and 
intentions. 

This decision on the subject of supremacy of authority 
by no means reconciled or put at rest the perturbed, 
aggressive spirit in Congress which opposed the Presi- 
dent's policy. The enthusiastic adherents of this opposi- 
tion made the District jail an objective point in the 
furtherance of their ends. They made personal visits to 
that institution, and examined all the inmates whose 
color was not of orthodox Albino-Anglo American tint. 
They would learn the story of their wrongs and injuries, 
then straightway proceed to the halls of Congress and 
make known their discoveries. Detectives were employed 
by them to make daily reports of the " cruelty " shown 
to colored inmates of the jail, which reports were soon 
dressed up in pathetic and classic language for the occa- 
sion. Professional and amateur demagogues made sen- 
sational speeches (sometimes written for them by depart- 
ment clerks and professional speech- writers), and " Rome 
was made to howl " in the halls of the American Con- 
gress. " Lincoln and his beastly negro catchers " were 
denounced in unmeasured terms. 



258 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LflVCOLN. 

The jail was now by the necessities of its surroundings 
made the receptacle for prisoners of all kinds, civil, 
military, and State. Orders from the War Department 
were issued to the custodian of the jail to allow no person 
whatever to communicate with the military or State 
prisoners without an order from the War Department. 
The chairman of the District Committee in the Senate, 
and certain others of that Committee, claimed the right, 
by virtue of their position, to go into the jail and to 
examine all the prisoners, in the face of the orders of the 
Secretary of War ; and this was repeated almost daily. 

The situation became unbearable, and I sent in my 
resignation. This, however, was not accepted. The 
professional opinion of the Attorney-General was again 
invoked by the President, and he gave his views as to 
the duties of the custodian of the heterogeneous mass of 
prisoners in the jail, which resulted in the request of 
the President to the Attorney- General to prepare such an 
order as was proper for the marshal to sign, giving notice 
of what would be required for admission of visitors to 
the jail. The paper was prepared in the Attorney- Gen- 
eral's office, signed and sent forth ; and before the close 
of the day on which it was signed, resolutions were 
passed in Congress declaring the marshal guilty of con- 
tempt of that body for having presumed to issue what it 
deemed a contemptuous restriction of its rights, and a 
committee was appointed to wait upon the President to 
demand the instant dismissal of that insolent officer. 
The President showed the committee my resignation 



CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 2$Q 

already in his hands, and informed them that he would 
neither accept the resignation nor dismiss me from office, 
and gave his reasons for this action. 

After this the opposition became more and more 
acrimonious and offensive toward Mr. Lincoln and his 
Administration. The leaders of the opposition now 
resorted to every means in their power to oppose him 
for his want of respect, and for his disobedience to the 
behests of the co-ordinate branch of the government, 
forgetting that, Congress having made the offensive laws, 
it was the President's duty to execute them. 

Soon the marshal's office was made the subject of 
legislation in Congress, to shear it of its power and reduce 
its emoluments. The custody of the jail and prisoners 
was soon given to a warden ; and, shortly after, an Act 
was passed relieving the marshal from the duties of 
attending the Supreme Court of the United States, and 
providing a special marshal for that Court, thus leav- 
ing the office still one of great responsibility, but without 
remuneration commensurate with its duties. 

Before the appointment of the warden, the District 
court had sentenced three men to be hanged for murder, 
on a day subsequent to the change of custody. On the 
day set for the execution, I refused to act as the hang- 
man. Congress again passed a resolution denouncing 
my conduct, and instituted an investigation into the 
facts. The facts were that the order of the court was 
that the marshal should hang the condemned men, but 
Congress had unconsciously relieved him from that pain- 



26O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

ful duty ! The warden had no order for their execution, 
and could not perform the service with any more pro- 
priety than the marshal. The result of this blundering 
legislation, superinduced by hasty, factious zeal to injure 
an object of their dislike, was that Congress had nullified 
the solemn acts of the United States District Court, and 
restored to life and liberty and immunity from punish- 
ment three miscreants whose lives had been forfeited 
and who should have been hanged ! This legislative 
jail-delivery was a source of great annoyance and of 
some amusement to Mr. Lincoln. In speaking of cer- 
tain members of Congress and the part they had taken 
in this and other petty acts, he said : " I have great 
sympathy for these men, because of their temper and 
their weakness ; but I am thankful that the good Lord 
has given to the vicious ox short horns, for if their physi- 
cal courage were equal to their vicious dispositions, some 
of us in this neck of the woods would get hurt." 

The opposition was continued to the last, and Mr. 
Lincoln adhered to his policy to the end. But he was 
so outraged by the obloquy thrown upon his worthiest 
official acts, so stung by the disparagement with which 
his purest and most patriotic motives were impugned, 
his existence, in a word, was rendered so unhappy by 
the personal as well as political attacks of those for 
whose sympathy and support he might naturally have 
urged the most logical and valid plea, that life became 
almost a burden to him. 

As illustrative of the amenities of language with which, 



CONFLICT BETWEEN AUTHORITIES. 26 1 

at this epoch of his life, the Chief Magistrate of our 
Republic was habitually characterized, it will suffice to 
adduce such an expression as this, " That hideous 
baboon at the other end of the Avenue, whom Barnum 
should exhibit as a zoological curiosity." Mr. Lincoln's 
existence was so cruelly embittered by these and other 
expressions quite as virulent, that I have often heard him 
declare, "I would rather be dead than, as President, 
thus abused in the house of my friends." 

In the summer of 1861, shortly after the inglorious 
repulse of the Union army at Bull Run, Rev. Robert 
Collyer, the eminent divine, was on a visit to the 
federal capital. Participating in the prevailing senti- 
ment in regard to the incapacity or inefficiency of the 
general government in the conduct of military affairs, 
he chanced to pass through the White House grounds 
on his way to the War Department Casting a cursory 
glance at the Executive Mansion as he passed, his 
attention was suddenly arrested by the apparition of 
three pairs of feet, resting on the ledge of an open win- 
dow, in one of the apartments of the second story, and 
plainly visible from below. The reverend gentleman 
paused, calmly surveyed the grotesque spectacle, and 
mentally addressed to himself the inquiry whether the 
feet, and boots belonging to them, were the property of 
officers of the Executive government, at the same time 
thinking that if not, they would have proved sturdy ped- 
estals to the bearers of muskets upon the recent battle- 
field. Resuming his walk, he accosted a rustic employee 



262 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 

whom he found at work about the grounds, and pointing 
to the window, with its incongruous adjuncts, he re- 
quested of the man what that meant. " Why, you old 
fool," replied the rustic, " that 's the Cabinet that is a 
settin' ; and them thar big feet 's old Abe's." 

Some time after, in referring to this experience of his 
visit to the national capital in a lecture at Boston, the 
reverend gentleman commented on the imbecility of the 
government, and satirically added: "That's about all 
they are good for in Washington, to project their feet 
out of windows and jabber away ; but they go nowhere, 
and accomplish nothing." But he subsequently, on 
more than one occasion, rendered full justice to the 
President's able and zealous discharge of his high trust, 
saying : " I abused poor Lincoln, like the fool that the 
rustic called me, while his heart was even then breaking 
with the anxieties and responsibilities of his position." 



CHAPTER XVII. 

PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 

THE fact that we have in this country a literature of 
assassination, " voluminous and vast," suggests a 
melancholy reflection on the disordered spirit of the 
times through which we have passed, and on the woful 
perversity of human nature even under conditions most 
favorable to intellectual progress and Christian civiliza- 
tion. It is hurtful to our pride as Americans to confess 
that our history is marred by records so repugnant to the 
spirit of our liberal institutions, and to the good fellow- 
ship which ought to characterize both individual and 
national life in a free republic. But the appalling fact 
remains that two of our Chief Magistrates, within as 
many decades, were murdered in cold blood, and that 
bulky volumes have been filled with circumstantial ac- 
counts of plots and conspiracies by and against men 
born upon our soil and enjoying the full protection of 
our laws ; and yet, voluminous and extensive as these 
records are, they are by no means complete. 

One most daring attempt upon the life of Mr. Lincoln 
the boldest of all attempts of that character, and one 
which approached shockingly near to a murderous suc- 
cess was never made public. For prudential reasons 



264 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

details were withheld from the press ; but as the motives 
which imposed silence respecting a strange freak of 
homicidal frenzy no longer exist, it is perhaps a matter 
of duty to make public the story, together with certain 
documents which show in what deadly peril Mr. Lincoln 
stood during the ceremonies attending his second inau- 
guration at the Capitol in March, 1865. A glance at 
prior conspiracies will lead to a better understanding of 
the event to which these documents relate. 

The first conspiracy, from motives of policy, had for 
its object the abduction of President Buchanan. There 
was intense disgust on the part of certain fiery and fero- 
cious leaders in the secession movement with the con- 
servative temper of the Executive and of the ruling 
members of his Cabinet. After fruitless attempts to 
bully the Administration into a change of policy in har- 
mony with his revolutionary scheme, Mr. Wigfall, some 
time in the month of December, 1860, formed a plan 
for kidnapping Mr. Buchanan. A number of desperate 
men were banded together by him at Washington, and 
the details of the plot were discussed and agreed upon. 
The plan was to spirit Mr. Buchanan away, install Mr. 
Breckenridge in the White House, and hold the captive 
President as a hostage until terms of compromise could 
be proposed to conservative Democrats and Republicans 
in the North. Mr. Wigfall and other choice spirits had 
no doubt that their plan of accommodation could be 
enforced through the ad interim Executive. The 
scheme, however, could not be executed, in its first 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 26$ 

stage, without the concurrence and co-operation of Mr. 
Floyd, who threw Wigfall into a paroxysm of explosive 
wrath by flatly refusing to have anything to do with the 
enterprise. It was accordingly abandoned, so far as Mr. 
Buchanan was concerned. 

When Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated, in March, 1861, 
the organization of plotters was still intact ; but no plan 
of assassination had, as yet, received the sanction of the 
conspirators as a body. It was their purpose to kidnap 
Mr. Lincoln and hold him in captivity, without injury to 
his person, until such concessions were made to the 
Southern leaders as their plan of compromise rendered 
necessary. This second scheme of abduction, having 
proved as abortive as the first, was abandoned in favor of 
a more deadly purpose. Some of the more desperate 
among the conspirators, exasperated by repeated failures, 
resolved to dispose of Mr. Lincoln by the swifter and 
surer means afforded by the dagger or the bullet. 

Circumstances, in a surprising way, seemed to favor 
their murderous designs. Against the protest of his 
friends, who by detective means had obtained from the 
plotters many of their secrets, Mr. Lincoln made the 
Soldiers' Home his summer residence. The conspirators 
thought that either abduction or assassination could be 
accomplished without difficulty. They resolved upon 
the latter. They would dispatch him during one of his 
lonely rides after nightfall from the White House to his 
summer retreat. The attempt was made. 

In the spring and early summer of 1862 I persistently 



266 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

urged upon Mr. Lincoln the necessity of a military escort 
to accompany him to and from his residence and place 
of business, and he as persistently opposed my proposi- 
tion, always saying, when the subject was referred to, 
that there was not the slightest occasion for such pre- 
caution. One morning, however, in the month of 
August he came riding up to the White House steps, 
where I met him, with a merry twinkle in his eye that 
presaged fun of some kind. Before he alighted he said, 
" I have something to tell you ! " and after we had 
entered his office he locked the doors, sat down, and 
commenced his narration. (At this distance of time I 
will not pretend to give the exact words of this interview, 
but will state it according to my best recollection.) He 
said : " You know I have always told you I thought you 
an idiot that ought to be put in a strait jacket for your 
apprehensions of my personal danger from assassination. 
You also know that the way we skulked into this city, in 
the first place, has been a source of shame and regret to 
me, for it did look so cowardly ! " 

To all of which I simply assented, saying, " Yes, go 
on." 

"Well," said he, "I don't now propose to make you 
my father-confessor and acknowledge a change of heart, 
yet I am free to admit that just now I don't know what 
to think : I am staggered. Understand me, I do not. 
want to oppose my pride of opinion against light and 
reason, but I am in such a state of ' betweenity ' in my 
conclusions that I can't say that the judgment of this 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 267 

court is prepared to proclaim a reliable ' decision upon 
the facts presented.' '" 

He paused ; I requested him to go on, for I was in 
painful suspense. He then proceeded. 

" Last night, about 1 1 o'clock, I went out to the 
Soldiers' Home alone, riding Old Abe, as you call him [a 
horse he delighted in riding], and when I arrived at the 
foot of the hill on the road leading to the entrance of 
the Home grounds, I was jogging along at a slow gait, 
immersed in deep thought, contemplating what was next 
to happen in the unsettled state of affairs, when suddenly 
I was aroused I may say the arousement lifted me out 
of my saddle as well as out of my wits by the report 
of a rifle, and seemingly the gunner was not fifty yards 
from where my contemplations ended and my acceler- 
ated transit began. My erratic namesake, with little 
warning, gave proof of decided dissatisfaction at the 
racket, and with one reckless bound he unceremoniously 
separated me from my eight- dollar plug-hat, with which 
I parted company without any assent, expressed or im- 
plied, upon my part. At a break-neck speed we soon 
arrived in a haven of safety. Meanwhile I was left in 
doubt whether death was more desirable from being 
thrown from a runaway federal horse, or as the tragic 
result of a rifle-ball fired by a disloyal bushwhacker in 
the middle of the night." 

This was all told in a spirit of levity; he seemed 
unwilling, even in appearance, to attach that importance 
to the event which I was disposed to give to it. He 



268 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

seemed to want to believe it a joke. " Now," said he, 
" in the face of this testimony in favor of your theory of 
danger to me, personally, I can't bring myself to believe 
that any one has shot or will deliberately shoot at me 
with the purpose of killing me ; although I must acknowl- 
edge that I heard this fellow's bullet whistle at an 
uncomfortably short distance from these headquarters of 
mine. I have about concluded that the shot was the 
result of accident. It may be that some one on his 
return from a day's hunt, regardless of the course of his 
discharge, fired off his gun as a precautionary measure of 
safety to his family after reaching his house." This was 
said with much seriousness. 

He then playfully proceeded : " I tell you there is no 
time on record equal to that made by the two Old Abes 
on that occasion. The historic ride of John Gilpin, and 
Henry Wilson's memorable display of bareback eques- 
trianship on the stray army mule from the scenes of the 
battle of Bull Run, a year ago, are nothing in comparison 
to mine, either in point of time made or in ludicrous 
pageantry. My only advantage over these worthies was 
in having no observers. I can truthfully say that one of 
the Abes was frightened on this occasion, but modesty 
forbids my mentioning which of us is entitled to that 
distinguished honor. This whole thing seems farcical. 
No good can result at this time from giving it publicity. 
It does seem to me that I am in more danger from the 
augmentation of imaginary peril than from a judicious 
silence, be the danger ever so great ; and, moreover, I 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 269 

do not want it understood that I share your apprehen- 
sions. I never have." 

At this time Mr. Lincoln was to me a study. It 
would seem that he was always prepared for the inevit- 
able, and singularly indifferent as to his personal safety. 
He was then still suffering from his terrible domestic 
affliction, the death of his favorite son Willie. He 
doubtless at times acted an unnatural part in his endeavors 
to banish from his memory the disturbing recollections 
of his lost idol. I often recur with mingled feelings of 
admiration and sadness to the wonderful simplicity and 
perfect faith exemplified in his narration of the hazardous 
experience above described. He said : " I am deter- 
mined to borrow no trouble. I believe in the right, and 
that it will ultimately prevail; and I believe it is the 
inalienable right of man, unimpaired even by this dread- 
ful distraction of our country, to be happy or miserable 
at his own election, and I for one make choice of the 
former alternative." 

" Yes," said I, " but it is a devil of a poor protection 
against a shot-gun in time of war ; for that fellow on the 
road-side last night was just such a philosopher as your- 
self, although acting from a different standpoint. He 
exercised one of his supposed inalienable rights to make 
himself happy and the country miserable by attempting 
to kill you ; and unless you are more careful and discreet, 
and will be governed by wiser counsels than you derive 
from your own obstinate persistency in recklessness, in 
less than a week you '11 have neither inalienable nor any 



270 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

other rights, and we shall have no Lincoln. The time, 
I fear, may not be far distant when this republic will be 
minus a pretty respectable President." 

It was impossible, however, to induce him to forego 
these lonely and dangerous journeys between the Execu- 
tive Mansion and the Soldiers' Home. A stranger to 
fear, he often eluded our vigilance; and before his 
absence could be noted he would be well on his way to 
his summer residence, alone, and many times at night. 

Another occasion when the vigilance and anxiety of 
his friends were exercised will appear in the following 
extract from a memorandum written by Robert Lamon, 
who was deputy marshal of the District of Columbia at 
the time : 

In the early part of the night my brother came to me and 
asked me to join him'in the search for Mr. Lincoln. He was 
greatly disturbed. We drove rapidly to the Soldiers' Home, 
and as we neared the entrance to the grounds we met a car- 
riage. Behind it we could see in the darkness a man on 
horseback. My brother, who seemed unusually suspicious, 
commanded the party to halt. His order was instantly 
obeyed. " Who are you ? " he demanded, in the same per- 
emptory tone. A voice from within the carriage responded, 
" Why do you ask ? " The speakers recognized each other. 
The one in the carriage was Secretary Stanton, and the man 
behind it was one of his orderlies. " Where is Mr. Lincoln ? " 
asked Stanton. " I have been to the Soldiers' Home and he 
is not there. I am exceedingly uneasy about him. He is not 
at the White House ? " " No," said my brother, " he is not 
there. I have looked for him everywhere." We hurried back 
to the city. Arriving at the White House before Mr. Stan- 
ton, we found Mr. Lincoln walking across the lawn. My 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 2/1 

brother went with him to the War Department, and from 
there took him to his [Lamon's] house, where Mr. Lincoln 
slept that night and the three or four nights following, Mrs. 
Lincoln being at that time in New York. 

(Signed) ROBT. LAMON. 

My anxiety about Mr. Lincoln that evening grew out 
of a report of an alarming character made to me by one 
of my detectives. Stanton had threatening news also, 
and was therefore excited about Mr. Lincoln's safety. 
He told me that he never had so great a scare in his life 
as he had that night. The brusque Secretary thought 
the deputy marshal and I were assassins. The incident 
provoked much merriment among the parties concerned, 
no one enjoying the serio-comic part of it more than 
Mr. Lincoln himself. 

Meanwhile the conspirators, becoming alarmed for 
their own safety, observed a stricter caution. Their 
movements were embarrassed by the escort of cavalry 
which Mr. Lincoln was finally induced to accept, after 
prolonged importunities by those who had certain knowl- 
edge of the dangers to which he was exposed. Lost 
opportunities, baffled hopes, exasperating defeats, served 
however only to heighten the deadly determination of 
the plotters ; and so matters drifted on until the day of 
Mr. Lincoln's second inauguration. A tragedy was 
planned for that day which has no parallel in the history 
of criminal audacity, if considered as nothing more than 
a crime intended. 

Everybody knows what throngs assemble at the Capi- 



272 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

tol to witness the imposing ceremonies attending the 
inauguration of a President of the United States. It is 
amazing that any human being could have seriously 
entertained the thought of assassinating Mr. Lincoln in 
the presence of such a concourse of citizens. And yet 
there was such a man in the assemblage. He was there 
for the single purpose of murdering the illustrious leader 
who for the second time was about to assume the burden 
of the Presidency. That man was John Wilkes Booth. 
Proof of his identity, and a detailed account of his move- 
ments while attempting to reach the platform where Mr. 
Lincoln stood, will be found in many affidavits, of which 
the following is a specimen : 

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ) sff 

COUNTY OF WASHINGTON, > 

Robert Strong, a citizen of said County and District, 
being duly sworn, says that he was a policeman at the Capi- 
tol on the day of the second inauguration of President Lin- 
coln, and was stationed at the east door of the rotunda, with 
Commissioner B. B. French, at the time the President, ac- 
companied by the judges and others, passed out to the plat- 
form where the ceremonies of inauguration were about to 
begin, when a man in a very determined and excited manner 
broke through the line of policemen which had been formed 
to keep the crowd out. Lieutenant Westfall immediately 
seized the stranger, and a considerable scuffle ensued. The 
stranger seemed determined to get to the platform where the 
President and his party were, but Lieutenant Westfall called 
for assistance. The Commissioner closed the door, or had 
it closed, and the intruder was finally thrust from the passage 
leading to the platform which was reserved for the Presi- 
dent's party. After the President was assassinated, the 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 273 

singular conduct of this stranger on that day was frequently 
talked of by the policemen who observed it. Lieutenant 
Westfall procured a photograph of the assassin Booth soon 
after the death of the President, and showed it to Commis- 
sioner French in my presence and in the presence of several 
other policemen, and asked him if he had ever met that man. 
The commissioner examined it attentively and said : " Yes, 
I would know that face among ten thousand. That is the 
man you had a scuffle with on inauguration day. That is 
the same man." Affiant also recognized the photograph. 
Lieutenant Westfall then said : " This is the picture of J. 
Wilkes Booth." Major French exclaimed : " My God ! what 

a fearful risk we ran that day ! " 

ROBERT STRONG. 

Sworn to and subscribed before me this 2oth day of 
March, 1876. 

JAMES A. TAIT, 

[SEAL] Notary Public. 

From this sworn statement it will be seen that Booth's 
plan was one of phenomenal audacity. So frenzied was 
the homicide that he determined to take the President's 
life at the inevitable sacrifice of his own; for nothing 
can be more certain than that the murder of Mr. Lincoln 
on that public occasion, in the presence of a vast con- 
course of admiring citizens, would have been instantly 
avenged. The infuriated populace would have torn the 
assassin to pieces, and this the desperate man doubtless 
knew. 

It is a curious fact, that, although Mr. Lincoln believed 
that his career would be cut short by violence, he was 
incorrigibly skeptical as to the agency in the expected 
tragedy, with one solitary exception. Elderly residents 



2/4 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

of Washington will remember one Garowski, a Polish 
exile, as many believed. He was an accomplished lin- 
guist, a revolutionist by nature, restless, revengeful, and 
of a fiery and ungovernable temper. He had been 
employed in the State Department as a translator, I 
believe, but had quarrelled with Mr. Seward and was 
discharged. This caused him to pursue Lincoln, Seward, 
and Sumner with bitter hatred. The curious will find 
in a published diary of his a fantastic classification of 
his enemies. The President he rated as " third-class," 
according to his estimate of statesmanlike qualities. 

From this man Gurowski, and from him alone, Mr. 
Lincoln really apprehended danger by a violent assault, 
although he knew not what the sense of fear was like. 
Mr. Lincoln more than once said to me : " So far as my 
personal safety is concerned, Gurowski is the only man 
who has given me a serious thought of a personal nature. 
From the known disposition of the man, he is dangerous 
wherever he may be. I have sometimes thought that he 
might try to take my life. It would be just like him to 
do such a thing." 

The following letter was written one night when I was 
much annoyed at what seemed to me Mr. Lincoln's 
carelessness in this matter : 

WASHINGTON, D. C. 
Dec. 10, 1864, 1.30 o'clock, A. M. 
Hon. A. Lincoln: 

SIR, I regret that you do not appreciate what I have 
repeatedly said to you in regard to the proper police arrange- 
ments connected with your household and your own personal 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 2?$ 

safety. You are in danger. I have nothing to ask, and I 
flatter myself that you will at least believe that I am honest. 
If, however, you have been impressed differently, do me and 
the country the justice to dispose at once of all suspected 
officers, and accept my resignation of the marshalship, which 
is hereby tendered. I will give you further reasons which 
have impelled me to this course. To-night, as you have 
done on several previous occasions, you went unattended to 
the theatre. When I say unattended, I mean that you went 
alone with Charles Sumner and a foreign minister, neither of 
whom could defend himself against an assault from any able- 
bodied woman in this city. And you know, or ought to 
know, that your life is sought after, and will be taken unless 
you and your friends are cautious ; for you have many ene- 
mies within our lines. You certainly know that I have pro- 
vided men at your mansion to perform all necessary police 
duty, and I am always ready myself to perform any duty 
that will properly conduce to your interest or your safety. 

God knows that I am unselfish in this matter ; and I do 
think that I have played low comedy long enough, and at my 
time of life I think I ought at least to attempt to play star 
engagements. 

I have the honor to be 

Your obedient servant, 

WARD H. LAMON. 



Mr. Lincoln had in his great heart no place for un- 
charitableness or suspicion ; which accounts for his 
singular indifference to the numberless cautions so earn- 
estly and persistently pressed upon him by friends who 
knew the danger to which he was hourly exposed. He 
had a sublime faith in human nature ; and in that faith 
he lived until the fatal moment when the nations of the 



276 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

earth were startled by a tragedy whose mournful conse- 
quences no man can measure. 

An unwonted interest attaches to the assassination of 
Mr. Lincoln, not alone from the peculiarly dramatic 
incidents by which it was attended, but also from the 
controlling influence he would unquestionably have ex- 
erted, if his life had been spared, in modifying and 
facilitating the solution of perhaps the greatest social 
and political problem of modern times. This problem, 
after being committed to the solemn arbitrament of the 
sword, and passing through its ordeal, had now reached 
an ulterior stage of development which demanded, in 
the council chamber, the exercise of even higher admin- 
istrative qualities than those which had hitherto directed 
its general conduct in the field. These attributes, it was 
generally recognized and conceded, were possessed by 
Mr. Lincoln in a pre-eminent degree. To a constancy 
of purpose and tenacity of will, of which conspicuous 
evidence had been presented in the final triumph of the 
Union cause, he united a conciliatory disposition, and 
the gentleness, sensibility, and simplicity of a child. 

Frequent reference has already been made to the 
humane and generous promptings of Mr. Lincoln's great 
soul, in all the varied relations of his life, as well private 
as official, and to instances of patriotism and of self-sacri- 
fice almost unparalleled in the annals of history. 

With a more enlarged experience of the violence of 
party passion and of internecine strife, and of the ex- 
cesses to which they sometimes unhappily lead, it seems 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 2"JJ 

almost incredible that the apprehensions of danger to 
Mr. Lincoln should have been shared by so few, when 
one thinks of the simplicity of his domestic habits, the 
facilities at all times afforded for a near approach to his 
presence, and the entire absence of all safeguards for the 
protection of his person, save the watchfulness of one or 
two of his most immediate friends ; and this, too, at a 
period of such unprecedented party excitement and sec- 
tional strife and animosity. But the truth is, the crime 
of assassination was so abhorrent to the genius of Anglo- 
Saxon civilization, so foreign to the spirit and practice of 
our republican institutions, that little danger was appre- 
hended of an outrage against society at large, the recol- 
lection of which even now suffices to tinge with a blush 
of shame the cheek of every true American, whether of 
Northern or of Southern birth. 

In 1880, after the nomination of General Garfield for 
President, General Grant visited Boulder, Col., where I 
was at that time residing. We had a long conversation 
on the assassination of Mr. Lincoln ; and he told me that 
about the period of the surrender of General Lee no sub- 
ject gave him deeper concern than the personal safety of 
the President. He stated that while no special cause ex- 
isted for this apprehension, as the war was manifestly and 
inevitably drawing to a conclusion, he had been harassed 
by almost constant fears and anxieties for Mr. Lincoln's 
life. " I learned," said he, " that your own apprehen- 
sions were excited from the very outbreak of the war ; in 
fact, before war was declared. It seems unaccountable to 



2/8 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

me now, in reviewing the situation, that more persons 
were not so impressed. I was aware, during all the 
latter part of the war, of your own fears, and of what 
you had done and were doing for his safety and 
protection." 

I read a communication addressed to the " St. Louis 
Democrat," in July, 1886, by Mr. R. C. Laverty, Gene- 
ral Grant's telegraph operator, in which he states that at 
the time of the surrender, " General Grant reported 
every day regularly to Washington, and was in constant 
communication at that time with the capital, because he 
was extremely anxious about the personal safety of the 
President." 

Upon the assassination of Mr. Lincoln being com- 
municated to General Grant he exclaimed : " This is 
the darkest day of my life ! I do not know what it 
means. Here was the Rebellion put down in the field, 
and it is reasserting itself in the gutter. We had fought 
it as war, we have now to fight it as murder." Con- 
tinuing his observations he said : " I was busy sending 
off orders to stop recruiting and the purchase of supplies, 
and to muster out the army. Mr. Lincoln had promised 
to go to the theatre that evening and wanted me to 
accompany him. While I was with the President a note 
was received by me from Mrs. Grant, saying that she 
was desirous of leaving Washington on the same evening 
on a visit to her daughter at Burlington. Some inci- 
dents of a trivial character had influenced this determi- 
nation, and she decided to leave by an evening train. I 



PLO7'S AND ASSASSINATION. 

was not disinclined to meet her wishes, not caring par- 
ticularly to go to the theatre. I therefore made my 
excuses to the President, and at the hour determined 
upon we left home for the railway station. As we were 
driving along Pennsylvania Avenue, a horseman rode 
rapidly past us at a gallop, and wheeling his horse, rode 
back, peering into our carriage as he again passed us. 
Mrs. Grant, with a perceptible shade of concern in her 
voice and manner, remarked to me : ' That is the very 
man who sat near us at lunch to-day with some others, 
and tried to overhear our conversation. He was so 
rude, you remember, as to causs us to leave the dining- 
room. Here he is again, riding after us ! ' For myself 
I thought it was only idle curiosity, but learned afterward 
that the horseman was Booth. It seemed that I was also 
to have been attacked, and Mrs. Grant's sudden deter- 
mination to leave Washington deranged the plan. Only 
a few days afterwards I received an anonymous letter 
stating that the writer had been detailed to assassinate 
me ; that he rode in my train as far as Havre de Grace, 
and as my car was locked he failed to get in. He now 
thanked God he had so failed. I remember very well 
that the conductor locked our car door ; but how far the 
letter was genuine I am unable to say. I was advised of 
the assassination of Mr. Lincoln in passing through Phila- 
delphia, and immediately returned to Washington by a 
special train." 

When the dreadful tragedy occurred I was out of the 
city, having gone to Richmond two days before on busi- 



28O RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

ness for Mr. Lincoln connected with the call of a con- 
vention for reconstruction, about which there had arisen 
some complications. I have preserved the pass Mr. 
Lincoln gave me to go through to Richmond, of which 
the following is a fac-simile : u 




GLL/Y*~0*' 

fcfy^/^s 
yft ' sr 

U**&t~v0+~<S 




This was perhaps the last passport ever written 01 
authorized by Abraham Lincoln. 

On the eve of my departure I urged upon Mr. Usher, 
the Secretary of the Interior, to persuade Mr. Lincoln to 
exercise extreme caution, and to go out as little as pos- 
sible while I was absent. Mr. Usher went with me to 
see Mr. Lincoln ; and when about to leave, I asked him 
if he would make me a promise. He asked what it was, 
and said that he thought he could venture to say he 
would. I wanted him to promise me that he would not 
go out after night while I was gone, particularly to the 
theatre. He turned to Mr. Usher and said : 

" Usher, this boy is a monomaniac on the subject of 
my safety. I can hear him or hear of his being around, 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 28 1 

at all times of the night, to prevent somebody from mur- 
dering me. He thinks I shall be killed ; and we think 
he is going crazy." He then added : "What does any 
one want to assassinate me for ? If any one wants to do 
so, he can do it any day or night, if he is ready to give 
his life for mine. It is nonsense." 

Mr. Usher then said : " Mr. Lincoln, it is well to 
listen and give heed to Lamon. He is thrown among 
people that give him opportunities to know more about 
such matters than we can know." 

I then renewed my request, standing with my hat in 
my hand, ready to start. 

" Well," said Mr. Lincoln, " I promise to do the best 
I can towards it." He then shook me cordially by the 
hand, and said, " Good-bye. God bless you, Hill ! " 

This was the last time I ever saw my friend. 



APRIL 14 

"IV /PR. LINCOLN, accompanied by his wife, Miss Har- 
ris and Maj. Rathbone, of Albany, New York, was 
occupying a box at Ford's Theatre, in the city of Wash- 
ington. The play was " Our American Cousin/' with the 
elder Sothern in the principal role. Mr. Lincoln was en- 
joying it greatly. Lee had surrendered on the pth ; on 
the i3th the war was everywhere regarded as ended, 
and upon that day Secretary Stanton had telegraphed to 
Gen. Dix, Governor of New York, requesting him to 
stop the draft. Sothern as Lord Dundreary was at his 
best. Lincoln was delighted. The lines which care and 
responsibility had so deeply graven on his brow, were 
now scarcely'visible. His people had just passed through 
the greatest civil war known in the history of nations and 
he had become well convinced that now, the cause of 
strife being destroyed, the government over which he 
was ruling would be made stronger, greater and better 
by the crucial test through which it has passed. Before 
leaving for the theatre he had pronounced it the hap- 
piest day of his life. He looked, indeed, as if he now 
fully realized the consummation of the long cherished and 
fondest aspiration of his heart. He was at length the 
undisputed Chief Magistrate of a confederation of States, 



Then 



Green Room. 




Head of Funeral Train ; 




" Funeral Car that carried Mr. Lincoln's Remains to Springfield" 




"Springfield, May 4th, 1865" 



PLOTS AND ASSASSINATION. 283 

constituting the freest and most powerful commonwealth 
of modern times. 

At some part of the performance Sothern appeared on 
the stage with Miss Meridith, the heroine, on one arm 
and a wrap or shawl carelessly thrown over the other. 
The latter seats herself upon a garden lounge placed on 
the stage near the box occupied by the President on this 
occasion. Lord Dundreary retires a few paces distant 
from the rustic seat when Miss Meridith, glancing lan- 
guidly at his lordship, exclaims : " Me lord, will you 
kindly throw my shawl over my shoulders there appears 
to be a draught here." Sothern, at once complying with 
her request, advanced with the mincing step that immor- 
talized him ; and with a merry twinkle of the eye, and a 
significant glance directed at Mr. Lincoln, responded in 
the happy impromptu : " You are mistaken, Miss Mary, 
the draft has already been stopped by order of the Presi- 
dent ! " This sally caused Mr. Lincoln to laugh, as few 
except himself could laugh, and an outburst of merriment 
resounded from all parts of the house. It was Mr. Lin- 
coln's last laugh! 



NOTES. 

Note i. Page 20, line 21, after the word " war." 

Mr. Lincoln did not think money for its own sake a fit 
object of any man's ambition. 
Note 2. Page 24, line 2, after the word " Mexico." 

In a speech delivered in the House July 27, 1848, on 
General Politics, Mr. Lincoln said : " The declaration that we 
(the Whigs) have always opposed the Mexican War is true 
or false accordingly as one may understand the term ' op- 
posing the war.' If to say ' the war was unnecessarily and 
unconstitutionally commenced by the President ' be oppos- 
ing the war, then the Whigs have very generally opposed it. 
Whenever they have spoken at all, they have said this ; 
and they said it on what appeared good reasons to them : 
the marching an army into the midst of a peaceful Mexican 
settlement, frightening the inhabitants away, leaving their 
growing crops and other property to destruction to you may 
appear a perfectly amiable, peaceful, unprovoking procedure, 
but it does not appear so to us. So to call such an act to us 
appears no other than a naked, impudent absurdity, and we 
speak of it accordingly. But if, when the war had begun 
and had become the cause of the country, the giving of our 
money and our blood, in common with yours, was support of 
the war, then it is not true that we have always opposed the 
war." 

On another occasion Mr. Lincoln said that the claim that 
the Mexican War was not aggressive reminded him of the 
farmer who asserted, " I ain't greedy 'bout land, I only just 
wants what jines mine." 



286 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Note 3. Page 27, line 19, after the word " possession." 

Mr. Lincoln felt deeply the responsibility of his great 
trust; and he felt still more keenly the supposed impossibil- 
ity of administering the government for the sole benefit of 
an organization, which had no existence in one-half of the 
Union. He was therefore willing, not only to appoint Demo- 
crats to office, but to appoint them to the very highest offices 
within his gift. At this time he thought very highly of Mr. 
Stephens of Georgia, and would gladly have taken him into 
his cabinet but for the fear that Georgia might secede, and 
take Mr. Stephens along with her. He commissioned 
Thurlow Weed to place a seat in the Cabinet at the disposal 
of Mr. Gilmore of North Carolina ; but Mr. Gilmore, finding 
that his state was likely to secede, was reluctantly compelled 
to decline it. I had thought that Mr. Lincoln had author- 
ized his friend Mr. Speed to offer the Treasury Department 
to Mr. Guthrie of Kentucky. Mr. Speed writes of this in- 
cident in a letter to me dated June 24, 1872. 

In one instance I find a palpable mistake. It is in regard to 
a tender to Mr. Guthrie through me of a position in his Cabinet 
The history of that transaction was about this : I met Mr. Lincoln 
by appointment in Chicago after his election but before he had 
gone to Washington. He seemed very anxious to avoid blood- 
shed and said that he would do almost anything saving the sacri- 
fice of personal honor and the dignity of the position to which he 
had been elevated to avoid war. 

He asked about Mr. Guthrie and spoke of him as a suitable 
man for Secretary of War. He asked very particularly as to his 
strength with the people and if I knew him well enough to say 
what would be his course in the event of war. I frankly gave my 
opinion as to what I thought would be his course which is not 
necessary here to repeat. He requested me to see Mr. Guthrie. 
But by all means to be guarded and not to give any man the 
advantage of the tender of a Cabinet appointment to be declined 
by an insulting letter. I did see Mr. Guthrie and never tendered 
him any office for I was not authorized to do so. This is a very 
different thing from being authorized to tender an appointment. 

Yours truly 

J. F. SPF.FD. 



NOTES. 287 

When Mr. Lincoln was asked during conferences incident 
to making up his cabinet if it was just or wise to concede 
so many seats to the Democratic element of the Republican 
party he replied that as a Whig he thought he could afford 
to be liberal to a section of the Republican party without 
whose votes he could not have been elected. 

Note 4. Page 49, line 5, after the word " fealty." 

When Mr. Lincoln was being importuned to appoint to 
his Cabinet another man from Maryland rather than Mr. 
Blair, he said laughingly: "Maryland must, I think, be a 
good State to move from," and then told a story of a witness 
who on being asked his age replied, " Sixty." Being satis- 
fied that he was much older, the judge repeated the question, 
and on receiving the same answer, admonished the witness, 
saying that the Court knew him to be much older than sixty. 
" Oh," said the witness, "you're thinking about that fifteen 
years that I lived down on eastern shore of Maryland ; that 
was so much lost time and don't count." 

Note 5. Page 78, line 7, after the word " brute." 

That neither section had the monopoly of all the vir- 
tues reminds us of the conversation between General Butler 
and a gentleman from Georgia in 1861, when the latter said, 
" I do not believe there is an honest man in Massachusetts." 
After a moment's reflection he added : " I beg to assure you, 
Mr. Butler, I mean nothing personal." The General re- 
sponded : " I believe there are a great many honest men in 
Georgia; but in saying so, sir, I too mean nothing personal." 

Note 6. Page 174, line n, after the word "period." 

The words of Clark E. Carr are entitled to credit, for no 
one present had more at heart than he the success of these 
ceremonies he being one of the original commissioners 
comprising the board that purchased this, the first ground 
set apart for a national cemetery for our soldiers. He was on 
the platform from which Mr. Lincoln spoke, He says in his 



288 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

" Lincoln at Gettysburg " that, " Before the great multitude 
of people could prepare themselves to listen intelligently, be- 
fore their thoughts had become sufficiently centred upon the 
speaker to take up his line of thought and follow him, he 
had finished and returned to his seat. So short a time [only 
about three minutes] was Mr. Lincoln before them that the 
people could scarcely believe their eyes when he disappeared 
from their view. They could not possibly in so short a time 
mentally grasp the ideas that were conveyed. Many persons 
said to me that they would have supposed that on such a 
great occasion the President would have made a speech. 
Every one thought he made only a very few " dedicatory 
remarks." Mr. Carr further says that the general impression 
was that the remarks consisted of "a dozen commonplace 
sentences scarcely one of which contained anything new, 
anything that when stated was not self-evident." 

Note 7. Page 199, last line, after the word " quality." 

While reading over some of the appealing telegrams 
sent to the War Department by General McClellan, Lin- 
coln said, " It seems to me that McClellan has been wander- 
ing around and has got lost. He 's been hollering for help 
ever since he went south wants somebody to come to his 
deliverance and get him out of the place he 's got into. He 
reminds me of the story of a man out in Illinois, who, in 
company with a number of friends, visited the state peniten- 
tiary. They wandered all through the institution and saw 
everything, but just about the time to depart, this man be- 
came separated from his friends and could n't find his way 
out. At last he came across a convict who was looking out 
from between the bars of his cell door ; he hastily asked : 
" Say ! How do you get out of this place ? " 
Note 8. Page 203, line 14, after the word "patriotism." 

Whether the act proved his wisdom or not, the result 
certainly sustained and justified his course; the proceeding 



NOTES. 289 

at least exemplified his firmness and determination in des- 
perate emergencies. There is perhaps no act recorded in 
our history that demanded greater courage or more heroic 
treatment. 

In a conversation with me shortly after this Mr. Lincoln 
said, " Well, I suppose our victory at Antietam will condone 
my offence in reappointing McClellan. If the battle had 
gone against us poor McClellan (and I too) would be in a 
bad row of stumps." 

Had not the tide of success and victory turned in our 
favor about this time, there is little doubt that Mr. Lincoln 
would have been deposed and a military dictatorship erected 
upon the ruins of his administration. The victory at Antie- 
tam was, without doubt, the turning point for fame or for 
downfall in the career of Mr. Lincoln. 

Note 9. Page 208, line 3, after the word " McClellan." 

WASHINGTON, April 13, 1888. 

MY DEAR MARSHAL LAMON, I received the proof sheet of 
your article enclosed in your note of the 8th. I have read it very 
carefully and I find the facts as stated are correct. 

Mr. F. P. Blair, Senior, told me the incident of conyeying in 
person President Lincoln's letter to McClellan. 

I liked McClellan, but I have always believed he was politically 
slaughtered in the house of his alleged friends. 

Yours truly, 

A. PLEASONTON. 

Note 10. Page 219, last line, after the word " subject." 

At a cabinet meeting, the advisability of putting a motto 
on greenbacks similar to the " In God We Trust " on 
the silver coins was discussed and the President was asked 
what his view was. He replied, "if you are going to put a 
motto on the greenback, I would suggest that of Peter and 
John : ' Silver and gold we have not, but what we have we'll 
give you.' " 



290 RECOLLECTIONS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 

Note n. Page 235, line 25, after the word " God." 

John W. Crisfield served in Congress with Mr. Lincoln 
in 1847 and was a warm friend of Lincoln. Being elected 
again as Representative in 1861, he was in Congress when 
the proposition was made for gradual emancipation in the 
border states by paying the loyal owners for their slaves. 
Mr. Crisfield was on the committee that was to draft the 
reply to this proposition. When he was at the White House 
one day in July, 1862, Mr. Lincoln said: "Well, Crisfield, 
how are you getting along with your report, have you writ- 
ten it yet? " Mr. Crisfield replied that he had not. Mr. Lin- 
coln knowing that the Emancipation Proclamation was 
coming, in fact was then only two months away said, 
" You had better come to an agreement. Niggers will never 
be higher." 

Note 12. Page 275, line 5, after the word " fac-simile." 

Apropos of passes to Richmond once when a man called 
upon the President and solicited a pass to Richmond. Mr. 
Lincoln said : " Well, I would be very happy to oblige, 
if my passes were respected ; but the fact is, sir, I have, 
within the past two years, given passes to 250,000 men to go 
to Richmond and not one has got there yet." 



APPENDIX. 



LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE. 

R. LINCOLN believed that : "He who knows only 
his own side of a case knows little of that." The 
first illustration of his peculiar mental operations which led 
him always to study the opposite side of every disputed 
question more exhaustively than his own, was on his first 
appearance before the Supreme Court of Illinois when he 
actually opened his argument by telling the court that 
after diligent search he had not found a single decision in 
favor of his case but several against it, which he then 
cited, and submitted his case. This may have been 
what Mr. Lincoln alluded to when he told Thurlow Weed 
that the people used to say, without disturbing his self- 
respect, that he was not lawyer enough to hurt him. 

The most important case Mr. Lincoln ever argued be- 
fore the Supreme Court was the celebrated case of the 
Illinois Central Railroad Company vs. McLean County. 

The case was argued twice before this tribunal ; one 
brief of which is among the forty pages of legal manu- 
script written by Mr. Lincoln in the writer's possession. 



2Q2 APPENDIX. 

While its four pages may have more historic value than a 
will case argued in the Circuit Court of Sangamon County, 
still the latter is chosen to illustrate the period of Mr. 
Lincoln's mature practice and to show his analytical 
methods, his original reasoning, and his keen sense of 
justice. 

The case is one wherein land has been left to three 
sons and a grandson and the personal estate to be divided 
among three daughters after the death of the widow. 
Mr. Lincoln is employed to defend the will against the 
three daughters and their husbands. 

The brief consists of fifteen pages of legal cap paper 
only four of which are here given. 

It is said that he wrote few papers, less perhaps than 
any other man at the bar ; therefore this memorandum in 
his own hand is also valuable as an example of the notes 
he so rarely made. 



LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE. 293 



^u / 



>*, 




o 




294 



APPENDIX. 



y 

* 








sf*?*' 

'/ 




7 /" 



LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE. 



2$$ 



Then a copy of the will and the evidence of sixteen 
witnesses, after which the following page of authorities : 





296 APPENDIX. 

&, "*&>, 




One of the opposing attorneys in the case was Mr. 
Lincoln's former law partner, Judge Stephen T. Logan, 
who was the acknowledged leader of the Illinois Bar for 
many years and from whom Mr. Lincoln derived more 
benefit than from any other.f 



* This was evidently written twice by Mr. Lincoln for it seems 
to be the corrected page of one in the Collection of General 
Orendorff. This corrected page has not the first allegation 
found in the rough draft : " The widow of the testator is not a 
competent witness, n Hump. 565." 

t Mr. Lincoln's first partner, John T. Stuart, enjoyed telling of 
his own arrival in Springfield in 1828 from Kentucky; how the 
next morning he was standing in front of the village store wonder- 
ing how to introduce himself to the community, when a well- 
dressed old gentleman approached him, who, interesting himself 
in his welfare, inquired after his history and business. " I am 
from Kentucky," answered Mr. Stuart, "and my profession is that 
of a lawyer, sir. What is the prospect here ? " Throwing back his 
head and closing his left eye. the old gentleman reflected a mo- 
ment, then replied : " Young man, d slim chance for that kind 

of a combination here." 



LINCOLN IN A LAW CASE. 



297 




Was Mr. Lincoln's experience at the bar a mere epi- 
sode in his wonderful career, or was it the foundation upon 
which rested the whole structure of that career? He said 
himself that " Law is the greatest science of man. It is 



That there was a chance for that combination in Springfield has 
been most conclusively proven. Lincoln's three law partners at 
that place as well as himself were all from Kentucky, to say noth- 
ing of other prominent members of the bar of Springfield who 
came from the Blue Grass state. 



298 APPENDIX. 

the best profession to develop the logical faculty and the 
highest platform on which man can exhibit his powers of 
well trained manhood." 




MR. LINCOLN'S VIEWS OF THE AMERICAN 
OR KNOW-NOTHING PARTY. 



Mr. Lincoln found in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence his perfect standard of political truth is 
perhaps in none of his utterances more conclusively shown 
than in a private letter to his old friend Joshua F. Speed, 
written in 1855, in which he says : "You enquire where I 
now stand. That is a disputed point. I think I am a 
Whig ; but others say there are no Whigs, and that I am 
an Abolitionist. I am not a Know-Nothing ! that is cer- 
tain. How could I be ? How can anyone who abhors the 
oppression of negroes be in favor of degrading classes of 
white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to 
me to be pretty rapid. As a nation we began by declar- 
ing that ' All men are created equal? We now practi- 
cally read it, ' All men are created equal except negroes.' 
When the Know-Nothings get control it will read, ' All 
men are created equal, except negroes and foreigners 
and Catholics.' When it comes to this, I should prefer 
emigrating to some country where they make no pretence 
of loving liberty, where despotism can be taken pure, 
and without the base alloy of hypocrisy." 



ACCOUNT OF ARRANGEMENTS FOR 
COOPER INSTITUTE SPEECH. 

NEW YORK, March 20, 1872. 

MY DEAR SIR, ... I send you for such use as you 
may deem proper the following letter written by me when at 
" Old Orchard Beach " a few years ago, giving the " truth 
of history " in relation to the address of Mr. Lincoln at the 
Cooper Institute in this City on the 27th of February, 
1860. . . . 

. . . We, the world, and all the coming generation of 
mankind down the long line of ages, cannot know too much 
about Abraham Lincoln, our martyr President 

Yours truly, 
(Signed) JAMES A. BRIGGS. 

MR. WARD H. LAMON, 
WASHINGTON, D. C. 

"In October, 1859, Messrs. Joseph H. Richards, J. M. 
Pettingill, and S. W. Tubbs called on me at the office of the 
Ohio State Agency, 25 William Street, and requested me to 
write to the Hon. Thomas Corwin, of Ohio, and the Hon. 
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, and invite them to lecture in 
a course of lectures these young gentlemen proposed for the 
winter in Plymouth Church, Brooklyn. 

" I wrote the letters as requested, and offered as compen- 
sation for each lecture, as I was authorized, the sum of two 
hundred dollars. The proposition to lecture was accepted 



SPEECH AT COOPER INSTITUTE. 30! 

by Messrs. Corwin and Lincoln. Mr. Corwin delivered his 
lecture in Plymouth Church as he was on his way to Wash- 
ington to attend Congress. Mr. Lincoln could not lecture 
until late in the season, and a proposition was agreed to by 
the gentlemen named, and accepted by Mr. Lincoln, as the 
following letter will show : 

DANVILLE, ILL., November 13, 1859. 
JAMES A. BRIGGS, Esq. : 

DEAR SIR, Yours of the ist, closing with my proposi- 
tion for compromise, was duly received. I will be on hand, 
and in due time will notify you of the exact day. I believe, 
after all, I shall make a political speech of it. You have no 
objection ? 

I would like to know in advance, whether I am also to 
speak or lecture in New York. 
Very, very glad your election went right. 

Yours truly, 

A. LINCOLN. 

P. S. I am here at court, but my address is still at 
Springfield, 111. 

" In due time Mr. Lincoln wrote me that he would deliver 
the lecture, a political one, on the evening of the 27th of 
February, 1860. This was rather late in the season for a 
lecture, and the young gentlemen who were responsible were 
doubtful about its success, as the expenses were large. It 
was stipulated that the lecture was to be in Plymouth 
Church, Brooklyn. I requested and urged that the lecture 
should be delivered at the Cooper Institute. They were 
fearful it would not pay expenses three hundred and fifty 
dollars. I thought it would. 

" In order to relieve Messrs. Richards, Pettingill, and 
Tubbs of all responsibility, I called upon some of the officers 



302 APPENDIX. 

of the ' Young Men's Republican Union ' and proposed that 
they should take Mr. Lincoln, and that the lecture should be 
delivered under their auspices. They respectfully declined. 

" I next called upon Mr. Simeon Draper, then President 
of 'The Draper Republican Union Club of New York,' 
and proposed to him that his ' Union ' take Mr. Lincoln and 
the lecture, and assume the responsibility of the expenses. 
Mr. Draper and his friends declined, and Mr. Lincoln was 
left in the hands of ' the original Jacobs.' 

M After considerable discussion, it was agreed on the part 
of the young gentlemen that the lecture should be delivered 
in the Cooper Institute, if I would agree to share the ex- 
penses, if the sale of tickets (twenty-five cents each) for the 
lecture did not meet the outlay. To this I assented, and the 
lecture was advertised to be delivered in the Cooper Insti- 
tute on the evening of the 2/th of February, 1860. 

" Mr. Lincoln read the notice of the lecture in the papers 
and, without any knowledge of the arrangement, was some- 
what surprised to learn that he was first to make his appear- 
ance before a New York instead of a ' Plymouth Church ' 
audience. A notice of the proposed lecture appeared in the 
New York papers, and the ' Times ' spoke of him 'as a lawyer 
who had some local reputation in Illinois.' 

" At my personal solicitation Mr. William Cullen Bryant 
presided as chairman of the meeting, and introduced Mr. 
Lincoln for the first time to a New York audience. 

" The lecture was over, all the expenses were paid, I was 
handed by the gentlemen interested the sum of $4.25 as my 
share of the profits, as they would have called on me if there 
had been a deficiency in the receipts to meet expenses." 

[Mr. Briggs received as his share of the profits $4.25. 
What the country profited by this, Mr. Lincoln's first tri- 
umph outside of his own state, has never been computed.] 




C. P MtftUUMAN. \ 
F. J. BRIUGS, / 
C. it- NoKTH CORRESPONDING EWTOB, Chicago. 




BLOOMLNGTON, WEDNESDAY, JULY 11, 1860. 



Republican Nominations. 



rt 



F JR PRESIDENT. 

HON. ABRAHAM LINCOLN, OP ILLINOIS. 

FOR VICE PRESIDENT, 

HON. HANNIBAL HAMLIN, OF MAINE. 

F.)R CONGRESS, 

IIO.\, OWi:\ LOVE JOT. 

V - . ' . ' , ! 

State Officers. 

FOR GOVERNOR, 

HON. BICHAHD YATES, OP MORGAN. 

FOE LIEUT. GOVERNOR, 

HON. YITAL JARROT, OF ST. CLAIRE. 

FOR AUDITOR JESSIK K. niJBOIS. | jf 

FOR STATE 8KCKETAKY O7IAS 1YI . HATCH.! g g 

FOR TRBASURKK WI1.I.1AM BUTLBK. -< 

SUP'T. PUB. IN8TUUCTION NEVVTOiN 8ATKIHAN.i 73 o 

Presidential Elector*. t 

u 

AT LARGE. _ U 

LEONARD SWETT of McLean. c -a 

JOHN M. PALMJER of Macoupin. rt B 

DISTRICT. a; 

First A. C. FULLER of Boone. J> 3 

Second WM. B. PLATO ..of Kane. m 

Third LAWRENCE WELDON of De Witt 

Fourth WM. P. KELLOGG of Fulton. * 2 

Fifth J. STARK of Hancock. . * 

Sixth J. C. CONK LI NO of SanRamon. <5 * 

Seventh H. P. H. BKOMMELL _ of Coles. * *= 

>:i.'hth.:..;....T. G. A\LK of Knndolpb. rf >> 

Ninth JOHN OLNEV of Gallatin. ~ "5 

-... o 

County Ticket. 

. | y 

FOR REPRESENTATIVE HARVKY HOGO 

FOK CLKKK of Circuit Court WM. M'CULIjOPGH. S 

FOR SHKRiFF JOHN U. RUTT. 

FOR CORONER WM. MATHKWS. "o 



LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 




THE RAIL-SPLITTER. 

TT has been said that the term "rail-splitter" which 
became a leading feature of the campaign in 1860 
originated at the Chicago convention when Mr. Deland of 
Ohio, who seconded the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, said : 
" I desire to second the nomination of a man who can 
split rails and maul Democrats." 

Mr. Delano not only seconded the nomination, but 
"seconded " the campaign "cry." 

Gov. Oglesby one week before at the State Convention at 
Decatur introduced into the assemblage John Hanks, who 
bore on his shoulder two small rails surmounted by a 



304 APPENDIX. 

banner with this inscription : " Two rails from a lot made 
by Abraham Lincoln and John Hanks in the Sangamon 
Bottom in the year 1830." 

For six months Rail-splitter was heard everywhere and 
rails were to be seen on nearly everything, even on 
stationery. One of the Lincoln delegates said : " These 
rails represent the issue between labor free and labor 
slave, between democracy and aristocracy." 

The Democrats disliked to hear so much about " honest 
Old Abe," "the rail-splitter" the " flatboatman," "the 
pioneer." These cries had an ominous sound in their ears. 
Just after the State Convention which named Lincoln as 
first choice of the Republicans of Illinois, an old man, 
devoted to the principles of Democracy and much 
annoyed by the demonstration in progress, approached 
Mr. Lincoln and said, "So you're Abe Lincoln?" 
" That 's my name, sir, " answered Mr. Lincoln. " They 
say you 're a self-made man, " said the Democrat. " Well, 
yes," said Lincoln, " what there is of me is self-made." 
" Well, all I 've got to say," observed the old man after 
a careful survey of the statesman before him, " is that it 
was a bad job." 



TEMPERANCE. 

ON the temperance question Mr. Lincoln has been 
quoted by the adherents of both sides. He had 
no taste for spirituous liquors and when he took them it 
was a punishment to him, not an indulgence. In a tem- 
perance lecture delivered in 1842 Mr. Lincoln said: 
" In my judgment such of us as have never fallen victims 
have been spared more from the absence of appetite 
than from any mental or moral superiority over those who 
have. Indeed, I believe if we take habitual drunkards 
as a class their heads and their hearts will bear an advan- 
tageous comparison with those of any other class." 

None of his nearest associates ever saw Mr. Lincoln 
voluntarily call for a drink but many times they saw him 
take whiskey with a little sugar in it to avoid the appear- 
ance of discountenancing it to his friends. If he could 
have avoided it without giving offence he would gladly 
have done so. He was a conformist to the conventionali- 
ties of the surroundings in which he was placed. 

Whether Mr. Lincoln sold liquor by the dram over the 
counter of the grocery store kept by himself and Berry 

will forever remain an undetermined question. When 

20 



306 APPENDIX. 

Douglas revived the story in one of his debates, Mr. 
Lincoln replied that even if it were true, there was but 
little difference between them, for while he figured on one 
side of the counter Douglas figured on the other. 

Mr. Lincoln disliked sumptuary laws and would not 
prescribe by statute what other men should eat or drink. 
When the temperance men ran to the Legislature to in- 
voke the power of the state, his voice the most elo- 
quent among them was silent. He did not oppose 
them, but quietly withdrew from the cause and left others 
to manage it. 

In 1854 he was induced to join the order called Sons 
of Temperance, but never attended a single meeting after 
the one at which he was initiated. 

Judge Douglas once undertook to ridicule Mr. Lincoln 
on not drinking. " What, are you a temperance man?" 
he inquired. " No," replied Lincoln, " I am not a tem- 
perance man but I am temperate in this, to wit : I don't 
drink." 

He often used to say that drinking spirits was to him 
like thinking of spiritualism, he wanted to steer clear of 
both evils; by frequent indulgence he might acquire a 
dangerous taste for the spirit and land in a drunkard's 
grave ; by frequent thought of spiritualism he might 
become a confirmed believer in it and land in a lunatic 
asylum. 

In 1889 Miss Kate Field wrote W. H. Lamon saying : 

Will you kindly settle a dispute about Lincoln ? Lately in 
Pennsylvania I quoted Lincoln to strengthen my argument 



TEMPERANCE. 307 

against Prohibition, and now the W. C. T. U. quote him for 
the other side. What is the truth ? 

... As you are the best of authority on the subject of 
Abraham Lincoln, can you explain why he is quoted on the 
Prohibition side ? Did he at any time make speeches that 
could be construed with total abstinence ? 

To this Lamon replied : 

You ask my recollection of Mr. Lincoln's views on the 
question of Temperance and Prohibition. I looked upon 
him as one of the safest temperance men I ever knew. 
He seemed on this subject, as he was on most others, unique 
in profession as well as in practice. He was neither what 
might be called a drinking man, a total abstainer, nor a 
Prohibitionist. My acquaintance with him commenced in 
1847. He was then and afterwards a politician. He 
mixed much and well with the people. Believed what the 
people believed to be right was right. 

Society in Illinois at that early day was as crude as the 
country was uncultivated. People then were tenacious of 
their natural as well as their acquired rights and this state of 
things existed until Mr. Lincoln left the State to assume the 
duties of President. The people of Illinois firmly believed 
it was one of their inalienable rights to manufacture, sell, and 
drink whiskey as it was the sacred right of the southern man 
to rear, work, and whip his own nigger, and woe be unto 
him who attempted to interfere with these rights (as the 
sequel afterwards showed when Mr. Lincoln and his friends 
tried to prevent the southern man from whipping his own 
nigger in the territories). 

I heard Mr. Lincoln deliver several temperance lectures. 
One evening in Danville, 111., he happened in at a temperance 
meeting, the "Old Washingtonian Society," I think, and 
was called on to make a speech. He got through it well, 



308 APPENDIX. 

after which he and other members of the Bar who were 
present were invited to an entertainment at the house of Dr. 
Scott. Wine and cake were handed around. Mrs. Scott, 
in handing Mr. Lincoln a glass of homemade wine, said, " I 
hope you are not a teetotaler, Mr. Lincoln, if you are a tem- 
perance lecturer." "By no means, my dear madam," he re- 
plied; "for I do assure you (with a humorous smile) I 
am very fond of my ' Todd ' (a play upon his wife's 
maiden name). I by no means oppose the use of wine. I 
only regret that it is not more in universal use. I firmly 
believe if our people were to habitually drink wine, there 
would be little drunkenness in the country." In the conver- 
sation which afterward became general, Judge David Davis, 
Hon. Leonard Swett, and others present joining in the discus- 
sion, I recollect his making this remark : " I am an apostle of 
temperance only to the extent of coercing moderate indul- 
gence and prohibiting excesses by all the moral influences I 
can bring to bear." 



LINCOLN'S SHREWDNESS. 

T)ERHAPS no act of Mr. Lincoln's administration 
J- showed his political shrewdness more clearly than 
the permission he gave for the rebel legislature of Virginia 
to meet for the purpose of recalling the state troops from 
General Lee's Army. This permission was given in a 
note to General Weitzel. Mr. Lincoln told Governor 
Francis H. Pierpont that " its composition occupied five 
hours of intense mental activity." Governor Pierpont says 
he was the loyal Governor of Virginia at the time, and 
Mr. Lincoln deemed it necessary to say something to him 
about so extraordinary a measure as permitting the rebel 
legislature to assemble when a loyal legislature with a 
loyal governor was in existence and was recognized by the 
federal government" Mr. Lincoln's note to General Weit- 
zel read : 

" It has been intimated to me that the gentlemen who 
have acted as the legislature of Virginia in support of the 
rebellion may now desire to assemble at Richmond and 
take measures to withdraw the Virginia troops and other 
support from resistance to the general government. If 
they attempt it, give them permission and protection until, 



310 APPENDIX. 

if at all, they attempt some action hostile to the United 
States, in which case you will notify them, give them 
reasonable time to leave, and at the end of which time 
arrest any who remain. Allow Judge Campbell to see 
this, but do not make it public." 

To write this note occupied all Mr. Lincoln's time 
from 9 P. M. till 2 A. M. " five hours of uninterrupted 
stillness." 

Mr. Lincoln foresaw that an attempt would be made to 
construe his permission into a virtual recognition of the 
authority of the rebel legislature. He steered clear of 
this recognition by not speaking of them " as a legislature," 
but as, " the gentlemen who have acted as the legislature of 
Virginia in support of rebellion," and explained afterward 
when it was misconstrued, that he " did this on purpose 
to exclude the assumption that I was recognizing them 
as a rightful body. I dealt with them as men having 
power de facto to do a specific thing." 



LETTERS. 

FAIRFIELD, CONN., Jan. 9, 1861. 
W. H. LAMON, Esq. : 

DEAR SIR, Yours of December 26th duly received. 
Connecticut is death on secession. I regard it the duty of 
the Government to uphold its authority in the courts as 
effectually south as it has done north if it can, and to hold 
its forts and public grounds at whatever cost ard collect the 
revenue ditto. There is but one feeling here, I believe, 
though in the city of New York there are those who sustain 
her actions, that secession is disgraceful as well as ruinous 
on the part of South Carolina. I glory in Lincoln now for 
I feel that he is the most suitable man of our party for this 
terrible ordeal through which he has to pass. I rely with 
entire confidence upon his urbanity, gentleness, goodness, 
and ability to convince his enemies of his perfect uprightness 
as well as his firmness and courage. I do not expect him to 
be as warlike as Jackson, but I look for the calm courage 
befitting a Judge on the bench. With Lincoln as President 
and Scott as Lieutenant-General, I have no fears but the 
dignity of the Government will be sustained after the 4th of 
March. What is being done to protect Lincoln personally 
at Washington before and after Inauguration ? Is there not 
a propriety in some of his friends making it their especial 
business to escort him without even his knowing it ? You 
know these Southern men better than I do. If there is 
propriety in such a thing, or need for it, rather, I would 



312 APPENDIX. 

meet you at Washington when he goes on and stay with you 
while it is needed. 

Yours truly, 

BRONSON MURRAY. 

NEWARK, OHIO, Feby. 14, 1861. 

FRIEND LAMON, I concluded to drop you this note, on 
learning that you in company with our mutual friend Judge 
Davis were with the President Elect on his tour to the Seat 
of Government. I was led to this through fear of the failure 
of some correspondence to reach your eye, the drift of it was 
to secure the appointment of postmaster at this city for 
your humble servant. Now if you have not been bored to 
death already by friends who are your humble servants, say 
a kind word for me. I have asked for the Post Office here 
for some good reasons. Poor enough to ask it and capable 
to fill it ... and have my second papers for being Black 
Republican. I might add that the Citizens would not look 
upon my appointment as an overt act against this City. I 
was removed from the Post Office Dept. in 1855 f r opposi- 
tion to Judge Douglas for removing the Missouri Compro- 
mise. ... I would beg to be remembered to Messrs. Lincoln 
and Davis. Wishing you all a pleasant trip, safe arrival and 

a smooth sea in the future 

Yours very truly, 

JAS. H. SMITH. 

The following letter may be of interest as showing the 
impression made at a time when opinions of Mr. Lincoln 
were in the formative state. New York City, as a whole, 
was unfriendly to Lincoln. Written when Lincoln was in 
New York on his way to Washington. 

NEW YORK, Feby. 20, 1861. 

DEAR LAMON, I was glad today to recognize you ; and 
drop you a line instead of a call when you must be so weary. 



LETTERS. 313 

Just before we met, my father and old Aid" Purdy (both 
wheel-horses in the Dem' party here) were canvassing 
matters politic. Purdy said he had seen Lincoln and liked 
the man ; said he was much better looking and a finer man 
than he expected to see ; and that he kept aloof from old 
politicians here and seemed to have a mind of his own. Old 
Judge Benson too (who was with us) is a Democrat and was 
equally pleased with Lincoln. He says Lincoln has an eye 
that shows power of mind and will, and he thinks he will 
carry us safely. 

I repeat these comments, because they came from behind 
the scenes of the popular apprehensions whence at present 
our friend Lincoln is excluded, and I feel sure he will be 
pleased to know how favorable an impression he makes. . . . 

Tell Lincoln to use his own judgment and be bold and 
firm. The people of all parties here are prepared to sustain 
him. But he may beware of all old politicians of both 
parties. 

Because he is a fresh man and an able one he was taken 
up. Let his freshness enter his policy also 

Your friend, 

BRONSON MURRAY. 

SPRINGFIELD, Feb. 22, 1861. 

HILL, This is Dick Gilmer of Pike he is to that neck 
of Woods what you or Dick Oglesby are to this region of 
Country. . . . Do what you can consistently for him and 

oblige 

Your friend, 

O. M. HATCH. 

BLOOMINGTON (!LL.), Feby. 25, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, Nothing of moment has occurred since 
your departure. Do write me immediately explaining the 
cause of your mysterious transit through Maryland. 



314 APPENDIX. 

Here let me say a word about Washington. It is the 
worst place in the world to judge correctly of anything. A 
ship might as well learn its bearings in the Norway Mael- 
strom, as for you people to undertake to judge anything cor- 
rectly upon your arrival there. 

You are the subject of every artful and selfish appliance. 
You breathe an air pregnant with panic. You have to decide 
before you can discover the secret springs of the action 
presented to you. 

There is but one rule and that is to stand by and adopt the 
judgment you formed before you arrived there. 

The atmosphere of Washington and the country are as 
unlike as the atmosphere of Greenland and the tropics. 

The country is moved and moves by its judgment 
Washington by its artificial life. The country really knows 
nothing of Washington and Washington knows nothing of 
the country. Washington is drunk, the Country is sober and 
the appeal from your judgment there to your home judg- 
ment is simply an appeal from Philip drunk to Philip sober. 

Please give these ideas in better language than I have 
done to Mr. Lincoln. I know his sound home judgment, 
the only thing I fear is the bewilderment of that city of 
rumors. I do ache to have him do well. 

Yours truly, 

LEONARD SWETT. 

WASHINGTON, March 2, 1861. 

DEAR SIR, I have received your request and shall take 
great pleasure to do what you wish in respect to Delaware. 
Very truly your friend, 

WINFIELD SCOTT. 

WARD H. LAMON, Esq. 

DANVILLE, ILL., March 5, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, Have just read Lincoln's inaugural. It 
is just right and pleases us much. Not a word too much or 



LETTERS. 315 

too little. He assumes the tone and temper of a statesman 
of the olden time. God bless him and keep him safely to 
the end. Are you coming home to see us ere you depart 
hence? You could unfold to us a chapter that would be 
spicy, rich and rare. 

We were at first disposed to regret Lincoln's hasty trip 
from Harrisburgh. But the action of the crowd at Balti- 
more convinces us that it was^the most prudent course to 

pursue. . . . 

Very truly your friend, 

O. F. HARMON. 

ON BOARD STEAMER WARSAW, March 8, 1861. 

DEAR LAMON, I got home a week ago. I have heard 
a good many things said pro and con about the new admin- 
istration, and as far as I have heard the mass of the people 
have confidence in Mr. Lincoln, and this applies to the people 
of the border slave states as well as the free states. But it 
is not worth while to disguise the fact that a large majority 
of the free states in the Northwest are opposed to Ultra 
measures and the people of the slave states are almost 
unanimous against coercion. Many appointments that have 
been made by the new administration were unfortunate. 
It must necessarily be so with all administrations, and Mr. 
Lincoln has had more than his share of trouble in making 
his selection. I fear that a majority of the Senators on our 
side care but little for his success further than it can con- 
tribute to their own glory, and they have had such men ap- 
pointed to office as they felt would serve their own purpose 
without any reference to Mr. Lincoln and but little for the 
party. . . . 

As far as I could see when at Washington, to have been 
an original friend of Mr. Lincoln was an unpardonable 
offence with Members of Congress. . . . 

I have the utmost confidence in the success of Mr. Lincoln 



3l6 APPENDIX. 

but I do not expect his support to come from the radical 
element of our party. . . . 

Your true friend, 

HAWKINS TAYLOR. 
HON. W. H. LAMON. 



STATE OF ILLINOIS, 

SECRETARY'S OFFICE, 

SPRINGFIELD, March, 18, 1861. 
WARD H. LAMON: 

DEAR HILL, My brother is foolish enough to desire an 
office. When you see him, and this, if he still insists that 
he has as good right to a place as anybody else, I want you 
to do for him, what you would for me. No more, no 
less . . . 

Your friend, 

O. M. HATCH. 



March 19, 1861. 

MY DEAR COLONEL, When I left Washington I handed 
to Judge Davis a letter setting forth what I wished him to 
do for me in Washington if it met his views. 

I desired to be detailed as acting Inspector General of the 
Army in place of Emory promoted Lieutenant-Colonel of 
the Cavalry. This appointment needs only an order of the 
Secretary of War. Mr. Cameron promised Judge Davis to 
attend to it at once, but I presume he has overlooked it. 
Will you do me the favor to see Cameron on the subject ? 
He knows all about it and precisely what to do. 

I hope you are having a good time in Washington. I 
presume you are as you seem to have very much enjoyed the 
excitement along the road and in Washington. I shall 
always cherish a most pleasant remembrance of our journey 



LETTERS, 317 

and of the agreeable acquaintances and friends I made on 
the road. Among the last I have rated you and Judge 
Davis with peculiar satisfaction and I hope you will always 
believe that I shall cherish the warmest personal regard for 

you. 

Very truly your friend, 

JOHN POPE. 



March 23, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, The public mind is prepared to hear of the 
evacuation of Sumter, but it is a great humiliation. Still if 
Mr. Lincoln gives the order you may swear that such is the 
public confidence in him it will be at once taken as a neces- 
sity of the situation. 

W. H. HANNA. 

BLOOMINGTON, ILL., March 30, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, I saw the " Telegraphic Announcement" 
of your prospective trip to Charleston before your kind and 
cordial letter was received. Yesterday, the " Telegraph " 
announced your return to Washington, which gratified us 
all. The papers represent you as quite a Lion. I have no 
doubt you bear your honors meekly. . . . 

I am anxious about the country. Are we to be divided 
as a nation ? The thought is terrible. I never entertained 
a question of your success in getting to and from Charleston. 

How do things look at Washington ? Are the appoint- 
ments satisfactory? No foreign appointments for the border 
slave states ? Is this policy a wise one ? Off here it does 
not look so to me. 

Did Hawkins Taylor of Iowa get anything ? . . . 

Your friend, 

D. DAVIS. 



318 'APPENDIX. 

URBANA, Apr. 6, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, The Judge and I are now attending Court 
at this place, the only wreck of that troupe which was once 
the life and soul of professional life in this country. I see 
Judge McLean has departed this life. The question is 
who shall succeed to the ermin so worthily worn by him. 
Why should not David Davis who was so instrumental in 
giving position to him who now holds the matter in the 
hollow of his hand ? Dear Hill, if retribution, justice, and 
gratitude are to be respected, Lincoln can do nothing less 
than to tender the position to Judge Davis. I want you to 
suggest it to Lincoln. ... Of course you will. I know your 
noble nature too well to believe that you would not think 
of a suggestion of this kind as soon as myself. Write me. 

Yours, 

L. WELDON. 



BLOOMINGTON, Apr. 7, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, Why don't you write. Tell us something. 

By the way, since McLean'sdeath the friends of Judge Davis 
think Lincoln ought to put him on Supreme Bench. Now I 
want you to find out when this appointment will be made. 
Also tell Lincoln that Judge Davis will be an applicant, so 
that he may not ignore the fact or act without that knowledge. 
I wish, too, you would without fail go immediately to Cam- 
eron, Caleb B. Smith, and Gov. Seward and tell them Davis 
will be an applicant. Tell Smith what I know, that it was 
through the Illinois fight and Judge Davis that Judd went out 
and he went in, and we think we ought to be remembered for 
it. Now, Hill, I know you are bored to death, but our mutual 
regard for the Judge must make us doubly industrious and 
persistent in this case. 



LETTERS. 319 

Write immediately what the chances are, how Lincoln feels 
about it, and what we ought to do. 

Yours truly, 

LEONARD SWETT. 



WASHINGTON, April 8, 1861. 

HON. WARD H. LAMON: 

MY DEAR SIR, I cannot deny the request of the Rev- 
erend Mr. Wright, so far as to enclose the within letter. I 
do not know the person recommended personally; but the 
Reverend gentleman who writes the letter is a most esti- 
mable and worthy man, whom I should be delighted to grat- 
ify if I felt at liberty to recommend any one, which I do not 
under existing circumstances. 

I am very respectfully your obedient servant, 

S. A. DOUGLAS. 

ST. Louis, Mo., April n, 1861. 
COL. WARD H. LAMON : 

DEAR SIR, On the 3oth of July last I was assaulted by 
twenty-five outlaws in Texas with but one fighting friend 
to stand by me. I gave an honorable compromise, and 
came forth from my stronghold, in the presence of my 
would-be hangmen, a daring Republican and a fearless 
Lincoln man. But it afterwards became necessary for me 
to leave Texas or be suspended. As I preferred dying in a 
horizontal position, / left, came to St. Louis and am now at 
the service of Mr. Lincoln and our Country. If war is made 
I want a showing in Texas. There are many true and loyal 
men there. A few thousand soldiers thrown in there to 
form a nucleus around which the Houston Union men can 
rally will soon form a barrier to rebellion in the Southwest. 
When the " ball " opens I would like to be authorized to 



320 APPENDIX. 

raise five hundred men to occupy a position on Red River 
at the mouth of Bogy Creek. 

What can you do to assist me in doing something of the 
kind. I will look for a reply to this in a few days. 

Yours truly, 

J. E. LEMON. 



BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS, April 16, 1861. 
COL. W. H. LAMON : 

DEAR HILL, I send you the result of a public meeting 
here last night. We are, thank God, all right. . . . 

Secession, disunion and even fault finding is done with in 
this City. We shall all stand firmly by the administration 
and fight it out. 

On last Monday we had a few fights, for just at that time 
we could not and would not allow a single word of fault 
found with the administration; the result was that three 
Democrats got thrashed. Just then we were hearing the 
news of Fort Sumter, now we are all on one side. 

I write this that you may know the exact truth about us. 
If there is any service I can render the government count 
me always on hand to do it. Write me if you can get time. 

Your friend, 

W. H. HANNA. 



INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA, April 19, 1861. 

DEAR SIR, Sufficient companies have been formed in 
Indiana or nearly so to fill the six Regiments of our state. 
They of course contain all classes of persons, but many of 
them are our best and dearest youths with whom it has cost 
many a sigh and burning tear to part. Thousands more 



LETTERS. 321 

will soon be made ready to join. We are now of course 
intensely anxious about the Commandants and suppose that 
the President will have the appointment of those officers, 
and my object in writing this is to request you -without fail 
to see the President and General Cameron and say to them 
that we are all sensitive upon the appointments of the Brig- 
adier General of this state, and say to them that the appoint- 
ment of a mere civilian will give extreme dissatisfaction not 
only to the troops but to their friends. 

I name no person of that character who is an aspirant but 
I regret to say that there are some of that character here. 
From the appointment of one of whom, may God in his in- 
finite mercy save us. 

I believe every man in our State will arm, and those who 
refuse will be hung and their property confiscated. There is 
a feeling all through the State of the most intense character, 
wholly indescribable. I can do nothing of business. I am 
now helping our 200 men off, encouraging and counselling 
them what I can. Unless some change in my feelings now 
strained to the utmost pitch, I shall not be far behind them. 

Our boys are taking the oath in the Hall of the House, 
and the telegraph brings intelligence of the fighting at Balti- 
more and the burning of Harper's Ferry. The boys take the 
oath with a look of determination to do or die. 

All our fears now are for Washington. May God preserve 

you until succor comes. 

Ever yours, 

J. P. USHER. 

I am so excited that I can scarcely write legibly, but say to 
the President that the entire power of Indiana with all its 
men, women and children, money and goods, will be sacri- 
ficed if necessary to sustain the government ; the treachery 
of Virginia only intensifies the feeling. 

J. P. U. 

21 



322 APPENDIX. 

TERRE HAUTE, INDIANA, May 5, 1861. 
W. H. LAMON, Esq.: 

DEAR SIR, Since I wrote to you on the igth ult. I 
have been at Indianapolis endeavoring to aid the Governor 
in such way as I could. My desire has been to prevent rash 
counsels from being followed and from incurring unnecessary 
expense, and I think I have had some influence in keeping 
down extravagance. We are appalled every day by some 
new development of the dreadful conspiracy which has been 
formed for the entire overthrow of the Government. I 
hope its worst has now been realized and that whatever may 
occur hereafter will be for the better. Of one thing the 
President may rest perfectly satisfied, that the entire voice 
of Indiana is for the most vigorous prosecution of the War. 
I have no doubt but that 50,000 men could be raised in a 
month. All business has been suspended and the people do 
not expect to do anything until the war is ended. My desire 
is that it be pushed as fast as it possibly can, not rashly, but 
rapidly accompanied by such necessary severity as will be a 
terror to evil-doing. We have nothing to expect from Ken- 
tucky or Missouri, they remain partly quiet because of their 
proximity to the free states. My opinion is that they will 
not revolt now, or if they do, it will be in that partial way to 
avoid any entire destruction for the industrial interests of 
those states. However that may be, they refuse to answer 
to the call of the President for volunteers and I am totally 
opposed to their being suffered to remain in the attitude like 
cow-boys of the Revolution. I am for suspending all trade 
with them, if they will not furnish their quota of troops. 

If you please, and think it will not be deemed to be too 
impertinent in me, say to the President that my opinion is 
that the troops at Cairo should stop all boats of every kind 
passing down the river and that no provisions whatever 
should be permitted to be shipped to any state refusing to 
furnish their quota of troops. It will prevent violence here : 



LETTERS. 323 

throughout Indiana, Ohio, and Illinois most of the people 
think that trade of all kinds with the rebels should cease, 
and that can only be accomplished by the proclamation of 
the President. I hope he will make the proclamation. Our 
people want it, but his advisers there and his own wisdom, 
in which I have all confidence, will control. The people of 
the West expect him, nay all the civilized world expects him 
to press forward with undeviating firmness until the rebel- 
lion is crushed. We possess nothing too valuable for the 
sacrifice. Let us not be rash, but to the best advantage let 
us put the lives and worldly goods of us all upon the altar 
for the sacrifice, for the preservation of the government. 
Neither life nor goods will be valuable or worth preservation 
if the Constitution is to be overthrown. No villainy like 
this has ever occurred in the history of man, or one that 
deserves such terrible punishment. I believe it is said in 
history, though fabulous, that no spear of grass ever grew 
where Attila stepped his foot. I do most religiously hope 
that there will be a foot heavy enough to let down upon old 
Virginia to stop the growth of grass for a time. The evil 
must be met, and we were never in a better condition to test 
our patriotism. 

Western Virginia has a Convention on the I4th; how will 
it do for Indiana to send a Commissioner ? I think I could 
get Governor Morton to send R. W. Thompson. Suppose 
you ask Lincoln what he thinks of it. Thompson has been 
taking great interest in the war, making speeches and put- 
ting the people right. I have no doubt he will be much 
flattered at an appointment to the loyal Virginians, and if it 
is thought best at Washington, I think I can have it done. 
I shall be at Indianapolis for a day or two, when I shall 
return and be at the Charleston and Danville, Illinois, 
Courts for the next two weeks. Don't you wish you could 
be there? 

Most truly yours, 

J. P. USHER. 



324 APPENDIX. 

BLOOMINGTON, ILL., May 6, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, Your anxious and harassing state at Wash- 
ington during those perilous times has so occupied your 
time and attention that you have not had any leisure to write. 
I have not heard from you for three weeks. For the last 
three weeks I have been holding court in Lincoln. The 
excitement about enlisting nearly broke the court up for two 
weeks. I was at Springfield two days week before last and 
found everything astir. I need not say that you were 
missed at Lincoln by me and everybody else. Your ab- 
sence was regretted by everyone and yet everyone thought 
you deserved your good fortune. 

I found Trumbull very unpopular with the members of 
the Legislature and other parties at Springfield. Douglas 
is in the topmost wave. Douglas would beat Trumbull before 
this legislature. My course last summer in using my best 
endeavors to elect Trumbull does not meet with my own 
approbation. 

This war and its dreadful consequences affects my spirits. 
... It is very lonely going round the circuit without you. 

DAVID DAVIS. 



DANVILLE, ILL., May 10, 1861. 

DEAR HILL, I have written you about every week since 
I left Urbana. Dan Voorhees has been here for two days. 
He is a devoted friend of yours. He feels badly about the 
state of the country but is for the maintenance of the 
Government. . . . 

Mr. [Joseph G.] Cannon the new Prosecutor is a pleas- 
ant, unassuming gentleman and will in time make a good 
Prosecutor.* 

I need not tell you that it is lonesome here on account 

* This prophecy was certainly fulfilled. 



LETTERS. 325 

of your absence. This is my last court here and no lawyer 
is practising here who was practising here when I held my 
first court. This is emphatically a world of change. 

Your friend as ever, 

DAVID DAVIS. 



WASHINGTON, D. C., June 4, 1861. 

COLONEL LAMON : 

MY DEAR SIR, I would be obliged to you to procure 
for me that Presidential interview as soon as practicable. I 
do not wish to trouble you, but I am in a considerable hurry. 
I wish to say some things to the President about matters in 
North Carolina. There are some Union men there yet. 

Respectfully yours, 

CHAS. HENRY FOSTER. 



BLOOMINGTON, ILLINOIS, August 25, 1861. 
COL. WARD H. LAMON : 

DEAR HILL, Weare making great preparations for war in 
this State, and will have twenty thousand men in camp, besides 
those already in Missouri, in a very short time. There is a uni- 
versal demand for the removal of Mr. Cameron, and I think 
after all, the sooner it is done the better. Mr. Lincoln cer- 
tainly has no idea of the universal disposition of the whole 
people on this subject. I feel that Cameron wants to render 
the war unpopular by mismanagement, for they all know 
that if this war is successfully prosecuted that all the 
scoundrels cannot keep Mr. Lincoln from being re-elected 
President. 

Do tell Mr. Lincoln this thing, tell him also that he has 
the confidence of all parties, except the traitors. . . . 

I know Lincoln well enough to know that he will make no 



326 APPENDIX. 

mistakes, if he will consult his own will and act up to it 
bravely and without hesitation. It is the best time in the 
world to be President, but he must be all President. Half- 
way measures will only now tend to our ruin and disgrace. 

I fear Trumbull is a rascal, the idea of his being unpre- 
pared in the Senate to vote for the resolution approving the 
act of the President, has killed him off. I will bet you a 
bottle of wine that he sees the day he will want to exchange 
that little speech. . . . 

I am perhaps too impatient, and I am besides under some 
personal obligations to Mr. Cameron, but in this fight I care 
nothing about obligations of friendship in opposition to the 
welfare of the country. No one man nor any number of men 
can in my estimation be allowed for one moment to stand in 
the way of good government. 

Excuse me for all this and believe me in everything. I am, 

Your friend, 

W. A. HANNA. 

The city is full of soldiers and we are all marching left 

foot foremost. 

W. H. H. 



WILLARD'S HOTEL, 7 P. M. Aug. 30, 1861. 

DEAR SIR, General Scott notified me that if I would 
make an arrangement with the President to receive the Fort 
Sumter Garrison at some definite time, he would be most 
happy to be present at the reception. My men are at lei- 
sure either to-morrow or Monday, or in fact any time during 
the next week. Will you have the kindness to arrange it 
and let me know the result ? I will call at this Hotel for your 

answer. 

Yours very truly, 

A. DOUBLEDAY. 

To COL. WARD H. LAMON. 



LETTERS. 327 

FORT LAFAYETTE, Oct. 24, 1861. 

MY DEAR SIR, It is nearly three months since I have 
been seized and held as a close prisoner by the Government 
of the United States. No charge ever has none can be 
preferred against me, and yet I am robbed of my lib- 
erty separated from my family and home, and have been 
subjected to irreparable pecuniary loss. Is it possible that 
your friend Mr. Lincoln can permit such acts to be done 
in his name and under his administration ? It is not possible 
for me to give you in a brief letter a just view of my rela- 
tions to the Government or of its conduct to me, but I ask 
you to get the President in company with yourself to exam- 
ine my correspondence with the War and State Departments, 
commencing on the nineteenth of September. After their 
perusal I think you will agree with me, that no man has ever 
within the limits of the United States been more unjustly 
deprived of his liberty. In truth, the President and yourself 
will reach the conclusion that the honor and good faith of the 
Government demand my release. 

Yours truly, 

CHAS. J. FAULKNER. 

In 1862 Hawkins Taylor wrote : 

Thinking back to the Presidential Campaign I cannot help 
but think how strange things have turned. I was an original 
Lincoln man, worked for him before, at, and in the State 
Convention for the nomination of Delegates to the Chicago 
Convention. Grimes scouted the idea of such a country 
lawyer being President. When the Chicago Convention 
came off Colonel Warren, knowing that I was scarce of funds 
and knowing my anxiety for the nomination of Mr. Lincoln, 
sent me a ticket to Chicago and back. I pledged a watch 
that cost me $128 for money to pay expenses there and to 
our State Convention. 



328 APPENDIX. 

Colonel Warren also went to Chicago, and to my own cer- 
tain knowledge, rendered most important services to Mr. 
Lincoln. At the State Convention he was put at the head of 
the electoral ticket, canvassed the entire state, made more 
than one hundred speeches, spent his money by the hundreds. 
While Grimes made two or three speeches, grum&ted privately 
at the nomination, damned the President upon all occasions 
since he took his seat. Yet Grimes has controlled the entire 
patronage of the State of Iowa to the exclusion of Colonel 
Warren and all his friends. How can Mr. Lincoln expect 
friends in Iowa under this state of things 1 



ILLINOIS, Feb. 12, 1862. 

... By the bye I do not care how soon you come back 
to Illinois provided always that I should hate for Hale 
Grimes & Co. to have their way in driving off every one who 
does not believe in negro stealing. . . . Yet I feel a good 
deal like they profess to feel. I should be glad to see the poor 
negroes free and provided for, but the abolition leaders seem 
to me to entertain more hatred to the owners than love for 
the negroes, and to be willing to sacrifice Whites, Negroes, 
Country and Constitution to the gratification of their ambi- 
tion and malignity. 

I feel very glad at the progress the war is now making as 
I do hope the present prospect of speedy success will enable 
Lincoln and other conservative Republicans and Democrats 
to set at defiance the ravings of the abolitionists and univer- 
sal confiscation men. If their mouths can be stopped I 
have now good hope that the union can soon be restored 
and that a few months will bring daylight out of the troubles 
of the Country. . . . 

Yours respectfully, 

S. T. LOGAN. 



LETTERS. 329 

OFFICE CHIEF QUARTER-MASTER 
DEPARTMENT OF THE GULF 
NEW ORLEANS, Dec. 8, 1862. 

DEAR HILL, I have given both our Representatives from 
here letters of introduction to you. Messrs. Flanders and 
Hahn. You will find Flanders old enough to take care of 
himself, but I desire that you be especially attentive to Hahn 
as I want him to defend Mr. Lincoln. He is very popular 
here and has very considerable influence and can do Mr. 
Lincoln a great deal of good. See that he falls into the 
right hands, men who support the policy of the administra- 
tion. Both men are now right and I depend on our friends 
to keep them right. Let me hear from you. 

As ever your friend, 
J. WILSON SHAFFER. 

Quietly say to Lincoln to cultivate these men as they both 
desire to find out what he wants and they will do it. 

J. W. S. 

12 NORTH A STREET, Feb. 26, 1863. 

My DEAR SIR, Mr. J. N. Carpenter, who is a pay- 
master in the Navy, has always borne and does now bear the 
character of a truthfully upright and veracious man. I am 
requested to say this of him to you and I give my testimony 
accordingly without knowing what the object may be of 
getting it. He is a member of the true church which be- 
lieves in the ancient gospel, and you are related by marriage 
to the same establishment. If you can do any good for 
Mr. C. you will recollect that it is done unto them of the 
household of faith and you will no doubt do it with the more 
alacrity when you remember that Satan also takes care of 
his own. 

I am most respectfully yours, &c, 
HON. W. H. LAMON. J. S. BLACK. 



33O APPENDIX. 

DECATUR, ILL., March 24, 1863. 

COLONEL WARD, Received a letter yesterday from 
Judge Davis who informs me that you and Swett joined him 
heartily in efforts to secure my promotion, that this was all 
done without my knowledge or encouragement, from pure 
motives of personal attachment and kind old remembrances. 
Allow me, Sir, to thank you kindly for this disinterested and 
zealous effort to benefit and honor me. I did not deserve 
the honor. I will try to do my best, however, and save my 
friends and self from disgrace. I learn you are prospering 
and are unchangeably the same. I hope some day to meet 
you again when our Country will allow us all once more to 
feel happy and at rest. 

I go to the field to-day, although I am far from well. . . 

Do not forget to remember me to the President cordially. 
May God spare his life many years yet. I hope he never 
despairs or falters under his heavy burden. 

Most respectfully 
Your friend, 
R. J. OGLESBY. 
WARD H. LAMON, 

Marshal of D. C. 



NASHVILLE, January 10, 1865. 
To WARD H. LAMON : 

DEAR SIR, I am anxious to have a young Philadelphia 
lawyer made captain of the regular army, and I know of no 
one so likely to present the matter directly to Mr. Stanton 
or the President as yourself. Will you oblige me by attend- 
ing to the matter ? I am suffering from a fall and unable to 
get to Washington. 

Most respectfully your obedient servant, 

J. CATRON. 



LETTERS. 331 

KENTUCKY, January 23, 1865. 
WARD H. LAMON, Esq. : 

MY DEAR SIR, ... Please remember me to Mr. Lincoln 
and thank him for his great kindness shown me during my last 
visit to your city. I do hope and pray that he may stand 
firm to the end of this wicked Rebellion, and while he ad- 
ministers mercy so freely that he will not forget justice. I 
am in favor of mercy, but never at the expense of justice. 
I know he is magnanimous. He is too much so sometimes, I 
fear. But I had rather trust him in this great crisis than 
any other man living. May God give him wisdom to direct, 
mercy to temper, and justice to balance the mighty interests 
of humanity that tremble in the balance ! 

I should be happy to hear from you at an early date. 
With kindest wishes for your health and prosperity, 
I am, dear Sir, 

Your most obedient servant, 

D. P. HENDERSON. 

CHICAGO, February 10, 1865. 

DEAR SIR, Enclosed is a letter which I wish you to place 
in the hands of President Lincoln in person. 

I fear it will not get to him until action is had. 

I am very sorry to trouble him, but my friends demand it 
of me. I told them that you would put it in his hands 

yourself. 

Your obedient servant, 

JNO. WENTWORTH. 

BLOOMINGTON, ILL., April 4, 1865.* 
COL. WARD H. LAMON : 

DEAR HILL, ... I am going with Governor Oglesby 
to visit the armies of Grant and Sherman, and shall call on 
you in passing. 

* Only ten days before the Assassination. 



332 APPENDIX. 

We have glorious news, and am feeling happy over it. 
I hope the President will keep out of danger; the chivalry 
are a greater set of scoundrels than he thinks them to be. 

Mr. Lincoln's personal safety is of such vast importance 
to the country at this time, that his friends feel more or less 
solicitous when they read of his "going to the front." But 
he has made a glorious trip this time. 

Your friend, 

W. H. HANNA. 



RELIGION. 

January 31, 1874. 
REV. HENRY WARD BEECHER: 

MY DEAR SIR, My attention has been directed to a 
" Review of the Life of Lincoln " which appeared in the 
" Christian Union." This paper was by many attributed to 
your pen ; it certainly must have received your editorial 
sanction. 

I do not conceal the fact that some of its criticisms 
touched me sharply ; but I determined, after no little delib- 
eration, that it was better to submit in silence to whatever 
might be said or written of that biography. It happens, 
however, that certain lectures delivered by Mr. Herndon of 
Illinois have renewed the discussion of Mr. Lincoln's un- 
belief, and incident to that discussion some of the bitterest 
enemies of my own have taken occasion to renew their 
assaults upon me for what my honest duty as a biographer 
made it necessary for me to record in regard to so important 
an element in Mr. Lincoln's character. 

Many of these self-appointed critics I know, and have 
long known. Their motives need no interpretation. Their 
hostility to me is very great, but it fails to equal the 
treachery with which they betrayed Mr. Lincoln while liv- 
ing, or the hypocrisy with which they chant his eulogies 
when dead. 

Their malignment of the lamented President during the 
most anxious and trying period of his administration was 



334 APPENDIX. 

so outrageous and vindictive that if Booth had wrapped his 
bullet in a shred of their correspondence he might have 
lodged a vindication of his crime in the brain of his victim. 
But these men could have no connection with this letter 
were it not that in this assault upon my character they have 
claimed the authority of the " Union " to sustain one of their 
unjust charges. I trust you will pardon the earnestness 
with which I protest against your conclusions as to myself, 
both because of their intrinsic injustice, and the sanction 
they have since given to the expression of others who can 
know nothing of the dignity and impartiality which belongs 
to honest criticism. 

When the life of Lincoln was written it was my honest 
purpose to give to the world a candid, truthful statement of 
all facts and incidents of his life of which I was possessed, 
or could, by diligent investigation, procure, so as to give a 
true history of that wonderful man. I was well aware from 
the first that by pursuing such a course I would give offence 
to some ; for who that ever had courage enough to write or 
utter great truths, since the commencement of the Christian 
era to the present time, has not been held up to public scorn 
and derision for his independence ? Knowing this and yet 
believing that I knew Mr. Lincoln as well, and knew as 
much about him as any man living, I undertook to furnish 
biography, facts, truth, history not eulogy believing 
then, as I believe now, that the whole truth might be told of 
him and yet he would appear a purer, better, and greater 
man than there is left living. But he was human, composed 
of flesh and blood, and to him, as to others, belonged ami- 
able weaknesses and some of the small sins incident to men. 
He was not perfect as a man, yet with all his humanity he 
was better than any other man I ever knew or expect to 
know. He was not a Christian in the orthodox sense of the 
term, yet he was as conscientiously religious as any man. I 
think I am justified in saying that had Mr. Lincoln been 



RELIGION. 



335 



called upon to indicate in what manner the biography of 
him should be written, he would have preferred that no inci- 
dent or event of his life should be omitted; that every 
incident and event of his history and every characteristic of 
his nature should be presented with photographic accuracy. 
He would have been content that the veil of obscurity should 
be withdrawn from his early life. All that was rude in it 
could detract nothing from the career which he afterwards 
so wonderfully accomplished. The higher elements of his 
character, as they were developed and wrought their effect, 
could have lost nothing in the world's judgment by a con- 
trast, however strong, with the weaker and cruder elements 
of his nature. His life was a type of the society in which 
he lived, and with the progress and development of that 
society, advanced and expanded with a civilization which 
changed the unpeopled West to a land of churches and cities, 
wealth and civilization. 

In your comment upon that part of the biography which 
treats of Mr. Lincoln's religion you say : "A certain doubt 
is cast upon his argument by the heartlessness of it. We 
cannot avoid an impression that an anti-Christian animus 
inspires him." And you further say, "He does not know 
what Lincoln was, nor what religion is." That I did not 
know what Mr. Lincoln was, I must take leave to contradict 
with some emphasis; that I do not know what religion is, in 
the presence of so many illustrious failures to comprehend 
its true character, I may be permitted to doubt. Speaking 
of Mr. Lincoln in reference to this feature of his character, 
I express the decided opinion that he was an eminently 
moral man. Regarding him as a moral man, with my views 
upon the relations existing between the two characteristics, 
I have no difficulty in believing him a religious man ! Yet 
he was not a Christian. He possessed, it is true, a system 
of faith and worship, but it was one which Orthodox Christi- 
anity stigmatizes as a false religion. 



336 APPENDIX. 

It surely cannot be a difficult matter to determine whether 
a man who lived so recently and so famously was a Christian 
or not. If he was a Christian he must have been sincere, 
for sincerity is one of the first of Christian virtues, and if 
sincere he must have availed himself of the promises of our 
Lord by a public profession of His faith, baptism in His name 
and membership of His church. Did Mr. Lincoln do this? 
No one pretends that he did, and those who maintain that 
he was nevertheless a Christian must hold that he may 
follow Jesus and yet deny Him ; that he may be ashamed to 
own his Redeemer and yet claim His intercession; that he 
may serve Him acceptably, forsaking nothing, acknowledging 
nothing, repenting nothing. 

When it is established by the testimony of the Christian 
Ministry that sinners may enter Heaven by a broad back gate 
like this, few will think it worth while to continue in the 
straight and narrow path prescribed by the Word of God. 
They who would canonize Mr. Lincoln as a saint should 
pause and reflect a brief moment upon the incalculable 
injury they do the cause which most of them profess to love. 
It would certainly have been pleasant to me to have closed 
without touching upon his religious opinions ; but such an 
omission would have violated the fundamental principle 
upon which every line of the book is traced. Had it been 
possible to have truthfully asserted that he was a member of 
the Church of Christ or that he believed in the teachings of 
the New Testament, the facts would have been proclaimed 
with a glow of earnest and unfeigned satisfaction. 

In conclusion I may say that my friendship for Mr. Lin- 
coln was of no recent hot-house growth. Unlike that of 
many who have made me the subject of hostile criticism, it 
antedates the beginning of his presidential term and the dawn 
of his political triumphs. I had the good fortune to be in 
intimate association with his private life when it was humble 
and obscure, and I was near him too in the darkest hour of 



RELIGION. 337 

his executive responsibility, until, indeed, the first rays of 
God-given peace broke upon the land. I can say, with truth 
that none can assail, that I retained his confidence unshaken 
as he retained my affections unbroken until his life was 
offered up as a crowning sacrifice to domestic discord at the 
very threshold of his and the nation's triumph. Is it, there- 
fore, likely that words of mine, written or spoken, should do 
purposed injustice to his memory? With the most profound 
respect, I am 

Very truly your obedient servant, 

WARD H. LAMON. 



22